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Grasslands on the Hauts Plateaux of the Vercors, Alps, France

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Chapter Summary

The grasslands on the Hauts Plateaux of the Vercors in this western part of the French Alps are strongly influenced by the pastoral system known as transhumance. Over many centuries, shepherds took their flocks in summer up to the mountain pastures. One third of these more than 16,000 hectares is covered by alpine and sub-alpine grassland. The Vercors Hauts Plateaux were designated as a nature reserve in 1985 and are included in the French Natura 2000 network. The vegetation patterns of the open parts of the plateaux look like a patchwork of grass and groves from which emerge stones and rocks. The patchwork of environments, woodland, grass and rocks, favours the presence of a varied fauna. Some bird species are particularly linked with grassland such as Anthus spinoletta which is typical of mountain rocky grasslands or Anthus campestris which only breeds in grassland.

Keywords: Anthus campestris; Anthus spinoletta; French Natura 2000 network; Hauts Plateaux grasslands; Vercors



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