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ŠUMARSKI LIST 5-6/2020 str. 44     <-- 44 -->        PDF

southernmost limit of its distribution. In addition, the northern slopes of Matokit Mt are the southernmost sites for the following taxa: Myrrhoides nodosa, Centaurea pannonica, and Saxifraga rotundifolia.
Within this floristic research we recorded 17 invasive plant taxa (Tab. 3) that were previously recorded by Vukojević (2011), Vukojević and Vitasović Kosić (2012). The tendency of uncontrolled spread indicates Ailanthus altissima and Ambrosia artemisiifolia, and limited expansion show: Amaranthus retroflexus, Xanthium strumarium ssp. italicum, Robinia pseudoacacia and Broussonetia papyrifera. All inventoried invasive species are in the habitat of abandoned arable land except for Robinia pseudoacacia, which spreads from the forest edge to the rocky grasslands. Some of the inventoried invasive plant species, are used as ornamental trees and shrubs in gardens in the studied area; e.g. Broussonenetia papyrifera, Robinia pseudoacacia, Phytolacca americana, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Oenothera biennis, Solidago gigantea and Ailanthus altissima (Tab. 3). They could be replaced by planting attractive plant species, naturalized in the Mediterranean area, such as Celtis australis, Cercis siliquastrum and Ficus carica (Vukojević and Vitasović Kosić 2012).
The main problem in studied area is a high degree of vegetation degradation which is mostly present in lower zones (up to 400 meters). Because of strong human emigration from mountainous areas cattle-raising in northern settlements is almost completely abandoned (Vukosav 2006) and that endengered grassland habitats. Invasive species and grasslands in different stages of succession (mostly in a form of maquis and garrigue communities) occupy increasingly large areas mostly on abandoned arable land (Vukojević and Vitasović Kosić 2012). Grassland habitats succession and consequently the loss of endangered and endemic taxa contributes to the long-lasting succession of Juniperus oxycedrus L., which is a consequence of reduced grazing (sheep and goat) in this area.
During the year 2014 the reforestation of Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) was noticed. This management of reforestation resulted in an additional reduction of the grassland surface and significant loss of natural flora and vegetation, additionally threatening endemic and endangered taxa. Similarly, it has already happened in the nearby area of Orah Hill (on its southern slopes), that was afforested approximately 25 years ago, and already has today lost its natural grassland vegetation and flora diversity.
The flora diversity depends on human (non)activity (agriculture, urbanization). Therefore, proper management (regular mowing of meadows, pasture grazing, and maintenance of arable land) will help to create better conditions for the development of agriculture and sheep farming, while it can also reduce the spread of invasive plant taxa and contribute to conservation of plant diversity. In order to preserve the grassland habitats for endangered and endemic taxa we suggest the introduction of educational workshops for local residents and hunting associations.
To keep plant richness in this area, special attention in the future should be paid to its protection and conservation through management measures, such as maintaining a general low pressure of grazing by means of grazing rotation, to prevent the process of secondary succession and the spread of unpalatable competitive tall grasses at a landscape level (Vitasović Kosić et al. 2014). Here presented results are very important, because this is the first inventory of flora here, even though the area is a part of the Biokovo sensu lato and Dinaric mountains, which are known for extremely high plant diversity. Species inventories presented here are the basic information needed for conservation of flora and habitats. It also represents a background for future monitoring especially the decline of grasslands area, and harbouring habitats for rare species found on Matokit Mt. Therefore, we hope this information should become accessible for broader audience and future conservation planning.
The first detailed floristic study for Matokit Mt recorded a total of 604 vascular plant taxa on grasslands in different succession stages, rocky crevices and forest fringes habitats. Herbarium specimens (345 sheets) were collected, digitalized (206), deposited and are accessible in on-line ZAGR Herbarium. The results of this study point to the high plant richness in the study area as a result of various biotic and abiotic factors, conditioned further by geological variety, soil, topography and microclimatic factors. The Matokit Mt represents a new site for the Flora of Croatia, especially for endemic (32), and endangered (36) taxa. The occurrence of some very rare endemics (Erysimum croaticum and Cardamine fialae (until now the only known site in Croatia)) in the flora of Matokit Mt is of special interest for the national flora. In addition, the north slopes of the Matokit Mt are the southernmost findings for some taxa: Myrrhoides nodosa, Centaurea pannonica, and Saxifraga rotundifolia. The reduction of the area of rocky grasslands in the studied area as a result of the strong human emigration, rapid abandonment of agriculture and livestock breeding, reforestation of Pinus halepensis, and a long-lasting succession of Juniperus oxycedrus has been evident. Such loss of grassland habitats leads to endangerment of some protected (CR, EN, and VU) and endemic plant species, at the same time abandoning of agricultural habitats around Town Vrgorac.