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The calcareous grasslands of the Schwäbische Alb, Germany: cultural and natural heritage

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Chapter Summary

Dry and semi-dry calcareous grasslands are among the species rich habitats in central Europe. One of the main areas of these grasslands is the Schwäbische Alb Mountain range in southern Germany. There are about 10,000 ha of calcareous grassland habitat in the Schwäbische Alb. Semi-dry calcareous grasslands developed on places originally covered with woodland and over the centuries have been shaped by pastoral use. Calcareous grasslands were mainly grazed with goats and sheep. Only these robust domestic animals are able to grow and produce on low quality fodder, therefore allowing economically viable or at least partly viable use of the land. In contrast with the semi-dry grasslands, xerophilous grasslands, steppic grasslands and sub-mediterranean Bromus associations are natural vegetation types. They only occur on small and extremely dry patches where brush and forest cannot grow. Some of the plants that characterize calcareous grassland communities include Pulsatilla vulgaris and Gentiana lutea.

Keywords: dry calcareous grasslands; Schwäbische Alb Mountain range; semi-dry calcareous grasslands; southern Germany



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