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Abandoned croplands can be considered a new category of »scattered elements« of mountain landscapes. To gain a deeper understanding of the conservation status (sensu EEC Directive 92/43) of abandoned cropland in the northern Apennines, we used the concept of the social behavior type (SBT) of plant communities. SBTs refer to the behaviour and ecological attributes of species at a given observation level and allow the understanding of the plant community conservation status. We found that topographic and soil conditions drive species assemblage in pastures after crop abandonment, but that long-term abandonment does not lead per se to the recovery of the semi-natural grassland communities deemed worthy of conservation in the EEC Directive. It was mainly the lack of appropriate disturbance regimes that allowed the spread of dominant tall herbs, which, in turn, reduced site suitability for subordinate plants. Moreover, their spread fostered the presence of elements such as ruderals and fringe species. We concluded that these abandoned croplands had a good potential to develop into a Habitat as defined in the EU Directive but without appropriate management plans they would remain of low representativeness.


abandonment croplands Ellenberg’s indicator values grassland recovery management protected habitats social behaviour types

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Troiani, N., Tardella, F. M., Malatesta, L., Corazza, M., Ferrari, C., & Catorci, A. (2016). Long-term abandonment of croplands in the sub-Mediterranean climate does not lead per se to the recovery of the semi-natural herb communities deemed worthy of conservation in the EU Habitats Directive. Acta Botanica Croatica, 75(2). Retrieved from

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