Laboratory of Woodland Ecology
    Institute of Entomology, Biology Centre CAS
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Podyji National Park
 

Podyji National Park, located in South Moravia, covers an area of 63 km2 of the upper Dyje River canyon (ca. 300 m a.s.l.). The canyon is characterised by nutrient poor, shallow soils. Until the Second World War, a large part of the area was managed by livestock grazing and coppicing, which prevented succession and kept the landscape rather open. After the war, these practices were abandoned, and secondary succession has led to an increase in canopy closure. Today, around 82% of the area is covered with closed-canopy forests, although some more open remnants of the former coppice woods and pasture forests remain on the upper slopes of the canyon or in eastern part of the park. Dense forests in the lower part of the river valley belong to Hercynian oak-hornbeam forests, open forests on the upper slopes belong to open thermophilous oak forests. The area of the park is a local biodiversity hot-spot and is known as one of few refuges for biota associated with open woodlands. Among other endangered species, it hosts populations of the clouded apollo (Parnassius mnemosyne), the great capricorn beetle (Cerambyx cerdo), the longhorn beetle Purpuricenus kaehleri, the aesculapian snake (Zamenis longissimus) or the lady's-slipper orchid (Cypripedium calceolus).

Dense forests in the park's core zone serve as study sites for a project studying the gap dynamics in temperate deciduous forests. In 2011-2012, we have created pairs of small clearings in the dense forest of the park's core zone, with one clearing in each pair always directly connected to open habitats (forest edge and alluvial meadow) and the other clearing isolated from open habitats. Such design allows us to study the effect of artificial canopy opening on the diversity of insects, birds, reptiles and vascular plants.

Besides, we have analysed the land use/land cover in the area of the park using aerial photographs from 1938 and 2014. Moreover, we were able to find out the land use information back to 1841 using old millitary survey maps. It has helped us to describe the changes in forest cover over the period of nearly 180 years and, in particular, we described the loss of open woodlands in the area in last 80 years. Together with current distribution of endangered organisms associated with open woodlands, the historical data are useful for conservation planning. In particular they give a clue where the active conservation effort, e.g. artificial canopy opening by thinning, coppicing or wood pasture, should be prioritized over the minimal intervention approach which is currently applied in most of the area.

 
Related papers

Does a minimal intervention approach threaten the biodiversity of protected areas? A multi-taxa short-term response to intervention in temperate oak-dominated forests. Šebek et al. 2015, Forest Ecology and Management

Změny krajinného krytu na území Národního parku Podyjí mezi lety 1938 a 2014. Miklín et al. 2016, Thayensia-Znojmo