Establishment of Transplants on Machine-Graded Ski Runs Above Timberline in the Swiss Alps


  • Marzio Fattorini

    1. Geobotanical Institute SFIT Zurich , Zürichbergstrasse 38, CH-8044 Zürich, Switzerland
    2. Current address: Institute of Ecology , Friedrich-Schiller-University, Dornburgerstrasse 159, D-07743 Jena, Germany
    3. Address correspondence to M. Fattorini ,
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The suitability of 24 native species for restoration above the timberline in Switzerland was assessed with demographic monitoring of their populations after transplanting. The plots were laid out in 1985–1986 and 1995–1996 on machine-graded ski runs using a total of 8,603 transplants of native grasses, legumes and forbs. Establishment conditions were improved with biodegradable wood-fiber mats and a small addition of garden soil. Transplant survival rates were generally good after 12 years. The regeneration of mixed stands was clearly recognizable because some transplants successfully reproduced by seed, and colonizers immigrated from the adjacent natural vegetation and neighboring restoration plots. Comparative studies of reproductive parameters in transplants and their donor population revealed that differences in seed production may become nonsignificant within a short time span. These fitness features have important diagnostic value for assessing restoration success and provide information on the performance of the same or closely related genotypes in their natural populations and in the restoration site. The plants studied showed species-specific traits in establishment after transplanting. Most species can be recommended for restoration in the alpine vegetation belt. The risk of restoration failure can be considerably reduced by using species with different life-history characteristics. From an ecological point of view, this method is a valid alternative to commercial revegetation using seed mixtures of non-native species and large amounts of fertilizers.