Conservation Biology

Projects by ecosystem type

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


Humbert, J.Y., S. Delley & R. Arlettaz. 2021. Grassland intensification dramatically impacts grasshoppers: Experimental evidence for direct and indirect effects of fertilisation and irrigation. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 314: Article 107412. (PDF, 1.9 MB)

Boch, S., Y. Kurtogullari, E. Allan, M. Lessard-Therrien, N.S. Rieder, M. Fischer, G. Martínez De León, R. Arlettaz & J.Y. Humbert. 2021. Effects of fertilization and irrigation on vascular plant species richness, functional composition and yield in mountain grasslands. Journal of Environmental Management 279: Article 111629. (PDF, 1.9 MB)

Kurtogullari, Y., N.S. Rieder, R. Arlettaz & J.Y. Humbert. 2020. Conservation and restoration of Nardus grasslands in the Swiss northern Alps. Applied Vegetation Science 23: 26-38. (PDF, 1.4 MB)

Herzog, C., M. Lessard-Therrien, M. Van der Heijden, R. Arlettaz & J.Y. Humbert. 2019. The impact of mountain hay meadow management on litter decomposition and root colonization by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. In Improving sown grasslands through breeding and management (eds. O. Huguenin-Elie, B. Studer, R. Kölliker, D. Reheul, M. Probo, P. Barre, U. Feuerstein, I. Roldán-Ruiz, P. Mariotte & A. Hopkins), Grassland Science in Europe, vol. 24, pp. 452-454. EGF and Eucarpia. (PDF, 397KB)

Boch, S., E. Allan, J.Y. Humbert, Y. Kurtogullari, M. Lessard-Therrien, J. Müller, D. Prati, N.S. Rieder, R. Arlettaz & M. Fischer. 2018. Direct and indirect effects of land use on bryophytes in grasslands. Science of the Total Environment 644: 60-67. (PDF, 645KB)

Lessard-Therrien, M., J.Y. Humbert, I. Hajdamowicz, M. Stańska, R. van Klink, L. Lischer & R. Arlettaz. 2018. Impacts of management intensification on ground-dwelling beetles and spiders in semi-natural mountain grasslands. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 251: 59-66. (PDF, 321KB)

Lessard-Therrien, M., J.Y. Humbert & R. Arlettaz. 2017. Experiment-based recommendations for biodiversity-friendly management of mountain 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)

Related PhD theses

Lessard-Therrien, M. 2017. A balance between productivity and biodiversity conservation in montane and subalpine semi-natural grasslands. PhD Thesis, University of Bern. (PDF, 4.6 MB)

Hayoz-Andrey, A. 2015. Optimal balance between yield and biodiversity in montane and subalpine meadows. PhD Thesis, University of Bern. (PDF, 3.6 MB)

Related Master theses

Rieder, N. 2017. Conservation and restoration of Nardion grasslands in the Swiss northern Prealps. Master Thesis, University of Bern. (PDF, 2.1 MB)

Kurtogullari, Y. 2017. Importance of Nardion grassland quality for orthopterans: a case study in the Swiss northern Prealps. Master Thesis, University of Bern. (PDF, 20.6 MB)

Dani, L. 2017. Positive effects of management intensification on land snail communities in Swiss traditionally managed montane and subalpine meadows. Master Thesis, University of Bern. (PDF, 3.5 MB)

Herzog, C. 2016. The impact of mountain hay meadow management on litter decomposition and root colonisation by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Master Thesis, University of Bern. (PDF, 9.1 MB)

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)