The Mohelnská Serpentine Steppe

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Mohelno, Czech Republic
The Mohelnská Serpentine Steppe - View from chance balcony
The Mohelnská Serpentine Steppe - View from chance balcony
The Mohelnská Serpentine Steppe - View from chance balcony
The Mohelnská Serpentine Steppe - Jihlava river meander also called Devil's Tail
The Mohelnská Serpentine Steppe - Part of race-way

The Mohelnská Serpentine Steppe Mohelno Reviews

drobec drobec
15 reviews
Dec 31, 2007
The territory of the Mohelenská Serpentine Steppe is situated in the promontory of the Czechomoravian Hills (Praebohemicum) on the so-called Náměšťská Plateau, s.s.w.-s.w. from the township of Mohelno, in the incised canyon of the River Jihlava of which the depth below Mohelno is 130-150 m. The reserve is situated at the elevation of 260 to 385 m above sea level. It extends mostly on steep, longitudinally markedly broken up and exposed to the south, rocky slopes of the valley, above the river left bank, in the so-called Devil's Tail meander. The territory also covers partly the moderate slopes and plateau above the valley. The geological substratum is serpentine.

Mostly southern exposition of the steppe and the specific geological substratum contributed to the creation of specific microclimatic conditions differing distinctly from climatic conditions of the environs. Those condition the occurrence of relict plant communities and an extraordinary occurrence of many organism species, first of all, of xerothermophyta, and occurrence of small dwarf forms of several species (nanisms). But there are also dealpine species situated most frequently on southern slopes.

Several species found reach here the northern border of their distribution in s.w. Moravia, several species have here their absolute northern or n.w. area border (Notholaena maranthae), and they have here the single or one of few preserved localities within the CR. For several plant species, the territory represents a classical locality, which means that here, for the first time, new taxa (Aporella moravica, Armeria vulgaris subsp. serpentinii, Avenula pratensis subsp. hirtifolia, Stipa joannis var. puberula were found and described. From the list of lower plant taxa found, the occurrence of rare lichen species (Lecanora serpenticola, Caloplaca dvořakii), of aerophytic algae communities and surprising findings of silicocolous mosses deserve attention,. In the list of higher plants (260 taxa in total), the priority is maintained by the fern Notholaena maranthae (the single locality in the CR, critically endangered taxon), moreover, significant species are here Asplenium cuneifolium, Biscitella varia, Carex stenophylla, Gagea bohemica, Scorzonera austriaca, Senecio erucifolius, Stipa tirsa, Thlaspi montanum.

Dominant tree species in the Mohelenská steppe are pines of the rare form Pinus silvestris hamata WILK occurring in the Caucasus Mts. Crimea. Significant is the occurrence of thermophilous shrubs. The most abundant is Cerasus mahaleb, creating sporadically continuous groups, Ligustrum vulgare, Berberis vulgaris, rarely also Cornus mas and Juniperus communis occur straggly.

With ecological conditions and vegetation characteristics, the so-called rocky steppe on steep southern slopes differs from the so-called rocky steppe on steep southern slopes differs from the short_stem, so-called pasture steppe on the upland plateau. Just in the pasture steppe, the greatest amount of plant dwarf forms - nanisms were found during the twenties; nanisms do not occur practically at all in the rocky steppe. Within the botanical spectrum, the total number includes in particular 25 representatives of protected species, of those 3 critically endangered plant species, Notholaena maranthae and Asplenium adianthum-nigrum belong. Moreover, 9 severely threatened species (e.g. Stipa stenophylla and S. dasyphylla) and 13 threatened species belong to that group. There are also other 37 species not being under special protection by law, but they are here of a high phytogeographical interest (Allium flavum, Alyssum montanum, Carex eriocetorum, Dorycnium germenicum, Euphorbia sequieriana, Festuca pseudovina, Melica ciliata, Viola collina). In this territory the largest population in Moravia of the severely endangered Stipa dasyphylla occurs. The great species diversity in the reserve is also demonstrated by the fact that 76 sinic and algae species and 318 dwarf plant species (nanisms) were found there.

The locality is also an important habitat of animals, to important ones, Lacerta viridis, Lacerta agilis, Natrix tessellata, Coronella austriaca, Natrix natrix belong. In the steppe, also Citellus citellus is found but its population is very scanty.

Due to specific microclimatic and edaphic conditions and to the exceptional spectrum of plant species, a high number of invertebrates, in particular of hymenopteran representatives (of 107 ant forms living in Central Europe, 91 ant forms, or receptual 52 ant species found) are attached to this territory. This reserve is the richest in ant occurrence in the CR and one of the richest ones in Europe, namely, beside others, thanks to that there are both submediterranean and pontomediterranean species which constitute ca. 1/3 of species. The locality is a unique site for reproduction of insects especially of pollinators.

To be the oldest available notes on the steppe territory, the note by Dr. František Dvorský in the publication Moravian Country Education should be considered. Other oldest data are from 1787 in the Josephian Cadastre. Another and very reliable note is from 1825. The majority of the reserve territory was municipal pasture at that time.

The first reports on serpentine research near Mohelno regards floristic from Náměšť clark and botanist C. Roemer from 1885 who, as the first one, discovered the plant community of eminent importance for nature science, namely, first of all, regards geobotany. On June 29, 1858, he found the fern Notholaena maranthae in the steppe. Only from 1905 or 1908, the start of systematic research in the locality is dated.

The Mohelno environs were known practically up to the end of the last century only as a floristically rich and interesting locality. Only as late as Josef Podpěra esteemed its importance in connection with the European flora development. The Mohelno locality was proposed to be protected as a plant community. The origin of systematic scientific work in the serpentine steppe near Mohelno can be attributed, first of all, to Jindřich Suza from the Masaryk University in Brno and Rudolf Dvořák.

The Ministry of Education and National Culture did the first practical step from the design to establishment in 1924. In this year, the steppe existence was severely endangered by efforts to plant locust-tree in this locality. On the basis of the Masaryk University and Czechoslovak Botanical Society statements, these efforts were abandoned and negotiations were launched to declare this locality for reserve. The fundamental problem was the solution of property relationships; the holder of plots within the reserve designed was the municipality of Mohelno. During negotiations on property problems in 1928, it was found that the municipality in 1923 hired this locality (up to 1943) for a gravel extraction quarry.

For the steppe conservation, important was in 1928 the visit of participants in two significant botanical conferences, who expressed subsequently their opinions on this locality as on the European unique territory that deserves the maximum protection.

Another significant day was March 21, 1933 when the CS Mining District Office in Brno limited the protective zone for the rocky steppe. This day is considered to be the day of inofficial declaration of the reserve. By the Ministry of Education decree of 31.12.1933 on natural monument protection, it was declared to be the full reserve of 50 ha in area as the rocky and grass steppe with thermo- and xerophilous flora on the serpentine substratum possessed by the municipality of Mohelno.

The steppe existence was endangered by efforts to build a road across its territory. The original project from 1878, in spite of scientific public protests, was realised and damaged markedly the reserve integrity, and its negative effects on the steppe eastern part are solved currently even at the present.

As well, the problem of stone extraction was remaining to be actual. In 1939, the municipality renewed the contract on stone extraction for the laser's heirs, and the cause regards stone extraction in the steppe was extended practically during the whole second war period (lasers grievances were solved in 1940, e.e., by the Land protector Office in Jihlava). During the whole war period , also problems were protracted on property adjustments with the municipality. In 1940, the borders of the reserve designed were surveyed. The purchase contract and formal assumption of the reserve in the Mohelenská Serpentine Steppe, with participation of the state and Municipality representatives, occurred at Mohelno on April 15, 1944. But that complicated the situation, in April 1944, the order was emitted that all contracts concerning the real property transfer are not approved meanwhile. In spite of these complications, the first directions for maintaining the reserve were given in May 1944, and subsequently, the first guard was established.

After the war end, the future of the Mohelenská Reserve was very uncertain. The municipality utilised the fact that the property adjustment was not realised, and it did not agree with the contract concluded in 1944. The concluding property adjustment was done as late as is 1946 declaring that previous contract has been never approved with definitive validity. The definitive agreement with that the reserve was established on the municipality plots of 48 ha, was done by the municipality of Mohelno on 1951. The actual declaration of the reserve was realised on December 11, 1952 when the protection conditions and area of the state nature reserve "Mohelenská Serpentine Steppe" were determined.

In the turn of sixties and seventies, the serpentine steppe occurred in another threat, represented by the planned construction of the Dukovany-Dalešice energetic system with the Dalešice Water Transfer Power Station. The specialists judgements regards potential threats for the locality had no influence on decision for realisation of the respective project. The site for the nuclear power station constriction was approved by the Protocol No. 2 from the USSR-ÈSSR interstate consultations on issues of designing the nuclear power stations in the ÈSR of 14.8.1970. The construction of reservoirs was launched in 1972, water inlet started in 1976. The construction of the Dukovany Nuclear Power Station started in 1974, and during 1985-1988, it was set in operation.

The proximity of a large water area near the reserve was manifested by pine overgrowing the steppe, which, in marginal parts, started to create the continuous forest stand, initiating the threat for the steppe existence. The solution of these problems started to be solved practically around 1987, during the first phase theoretically and then also practically. Since 1993, the pine reduction and cover reduction by mowing has been carried out. Since 1997, the steppe pasture was renewed in the reserve. As written above, the steppe research was focused initially, first of all, on the flora, climatic conditions and substrata, but gradually, the scientific public also revealed the steppe fauna. The research history of the Mohelenská Serpentine Steppe is extensive and specific to such extent that it can be hardly summarised in a brief review. For these reasons, I must refer all persons, interested in the research on individual scientific fields, to the review of scientific papers and studies devoted to this locality.
View from chance balcony
Jihlava river meander also called …
Part of race-way
dolfijn says:
You are right. It is beautiful over here!
Love your pics!
Posted on: Jan 06, 2008
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Mohelno Map
photo by: drobec