TitleRelative effects of management and environmental conditions an performance and survival of populations of a terrestrial orchid, Dactylorhiza majalis
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsJaneckova, P, Wotavova, K, Schoedelbauerova, I, Jersakova, J, Kindlmann, P
JournalBiological Conservation

For population viability analysis of endangered orchid populations, it is crucial to disentangle the effects of weather and management from intrinsic orchid dynamics. When doing this, typically several months' average temperatures and/or sums of precipitations are compared with some characteristics of plant performance. Here we tested, whether short averaging intervals (1-2 weeks) are more closely correlated with orchid performance. We used 5 years of data from five Dactylorhiza majalis populations, and have shown that the improvement of prediction by shortening the interval over which the temperatures are averaged or precipitation summed, even if detectable, is only weak and not significant. This, however, may be due to low weather variability during the study. Regarding the second aspect, the effect of management (presence or absence of mowing), we have found that leaf area of D. majalis at the regularly mown site was larger than that at the sites which were mown only once in 2 years, but we did not detect a significant effect of the absence of mowing on the incidence of flowering. Mowing can affect orchid performance in two ways: by reduced shading of orchids and by reducing competition with other species. Therefore, we have determined the co-occurring species associated with presence or absence of mowing and found that shading significantly affected the length of the flower stalk, the ratio of leaf width to leaf length at the end of the season, but did not affect seed weight and probability of flowering the next year. We conclude that the most appropriate management for D. majalis is mowing at least once a year, ideally at the end of June/beginning of July, after its fruiting. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.