Conservation Biology

Alpine grassland

Here is a picture from Alpine grassland project

Biodiversity-rich subalpine grasslands are degrading rapidly due to new intensification practices (aerial irrigation with sprinklers and fertilization with liquid manure) which are progressively replacing traditional practices (ground irrigation from traditional water pipes and fertilization with solid manure). At 12 study sites in Valais (southwestern Switzerland), we experimentally measure the separated and combined effects of fertilization with slurry and aerial irrigation on both biodiversity (species richness and biomass) and hay productivity/quality in Alpine meadows. In particular we want to determine under which management intensity functional biodiversity can be maintained at which agronomic cost.

Uni Bern supervisors

Jean-Yves Humbert, Raphaël Arlettaz


Lessard-Therrien, M., J.Y. Humbert & R. Arlettaz. 2017. Experiment-based recommendations for biodiversity-friendly management ofmountain hay meadows. Applied Vegetation Science 20: 352-362. (PDF, 858KB)

Landwehr, A., A. Oberson, M. Lessard-Therrien, J.Y. Humbert, R. Arlettaz & O. Huguenin-Elie. 2017. Effects of irrigation on phosphorus in soil, soil microbes and plants of semi-natural grasslands. In Grassland resources for extensive farming systems in marginal lands: major drivers and future scenarios (eds. C. Porqueddu, A. Franca, G. Lombardi, G. Molle, G. Peratoner &  A. Hopkins), Grassland Science in Europe, vol. 22,  pp. 348-350. Istituto Sistema Produzione Animale Ambiente Mediterraneo. (PDF, 904KB)

Andrey, A., J.Y. Humbert & R. Arlettaz. 2016. Functional response of leaf- and planthoppers to modern fertilisation and irrigation of hay meadows. Basic and Applied Ecology 17: 627-637. (PDF, 526KB)

Lavanchy, G., M. Strehler, M.N. Llanos Roman, M. Lessard-Therrien, J.Y. Humbert, Z. Dumas, K. Jalvingh, K. Ghali, A. Fontcuberta García-Cuenca, B. Zijlstra, R. Arlettaz & T. Schwander. 2016. Habitat heterogeneity favors asexual reproduction in natural populations of grassthrips. Evolution 70: 1780-1790. (PDF, 359KB)

Humbert, J.Y., J.M. Dwyer, A. Andrey & R. Arlettaz. 2016. Impacts of nitrogen addition on plant biodiversity in mountain grasslands depend on dose, application duration and climate: a systematic review. Global Change Biology 22:110-120. (PDF, 281KB)

Trivellone, V., E. Knop, T. Turrini, A. Andrey, J.Y. Humbert & G. Kunz. 2015. New and remarkable leafhoppers and planthoppers (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha) from Switzerland. Mitteilungen der Schweizerischen Entomologischen Gesellschaft / Bulletin de la Société Entomologique Suisse 88:273-284. (PDF, 550KB)

Andrey, A., J.Y. Humbert, C. Pernollet & R. Arlettaz. 2014. Experimental evidence for the immediate impact of fertilization and irrigation upon the plant and invertebrate communities of mountain grasslands. Ecology and Evolution 4: 2610-2623. (PDF, 906KB)

Ongoing PhD projects

Lessard-Therrien, M. 2014-2016. Alpine module of the Grassland management project. Optimizing fertilization and irrigation for ecosystem services in subalpine meadowland (continuation).

Related PhD thesis

Hayoz-Andrey, A. 2015. Optimal balance between yield and biodiversity in montane and subalpine meadows.

Related Master thesis

Delley, S. 2014. Grassland irrigation and fertilisation decrease soil and within-vegetation temperatures, negatively impacting orthopteran populations. Master Thesis, University of Bern. (PDF, 1.3 MB)