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Land use changes and development of the non-forest woody vegetation in the Danubian Lowland in Slovakia

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The aim of this paper is to assess the changes in the landscape structure of the Žitný Ostrov territory and in the woody species of the non-forest woody vegetation (NFWV) over the past 120 years. Within the assessed periods of 1892, 1949, 1969 and 2015, the shares of arable land increased by 17% while the ratio of the built-up areas with gardens increased by 3.7%. At the same time, natural habitats, grassland, waterlogged meadows and wetlands decreased by 26%. These changes, concerning small mosaic plots as well as large cultural blocks, were caused by the intensification of agriculture after 1948. Ecological stability and biodiversity of these areas has decreased. Thereafter 60 windbreaks were planted from 1951–1952 in an area of 30 ha. In total, 37 woody species were planted, of which 22 were alien species. After 25 years (in 1976), 19 of the same windbreaks were surveyed, observing 16 native and 12 alien woody species. During these periods, many rare alien and coniferous species died. In 2015, 13 windbreaks with 39 woody species were identified, both in the tree and the shrubby layer. The downside is that four of the long-time surviving species are invasive trees.

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Life Sciences, Plant Science, Ecology, other