Flora and vegetation of dry grasslands of Northeastern Ukraine, and problems of diversity conservation


  • Vladimir Ronkin Department of Zoology and Ecology, V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, Svobody sq. 4, Kharkiv, 61022
  • Galina Savchenko Department of Zoology and Ecology, V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, Svobody sq. 4, Kharkiv, 61022


abandonment, cattle grazing, chalky steppe, gully, plant community patch, succession.


The aim of this study was to describe the flora and vegetation of the grasslands of Northeastern Ukraine and to analyse how the steppe vegetation responds to grazing or its abandonment. We studied two gully systems in the east of the Kharkiv Region: the Regional Landscape Park “The Velykyi Burluk-Steppe” (steppe grasslands on chernozem soils; 10 sites) and the National Nature
Park “Dvorichanskyi” (steppe grasslands on chalky outcrops; 5 sites). Longterm monitoring data exist for both these sites starting in 1991, shortly after grazing intensity reduced. We recorded the major grassland plant communities (reflecting their successional status) as well as their dominant species. Tree and
scrub encroachment increased after management ceased. We conclude that (i) heterogeneous grazing (including ungrazed patches) in space and time is necessary in order to preserve grassland biodiversity in our study system; (ii) erosion of chalky outcrops (natural erosion as well as driven by cattle grazing) is a key factor promoting the richness of cretaceous species in steppe grassland.


Download data is not yet available.


Bagalii, D. I. 1918: Istoria Slobodskoi Ukraini (History of Slobodska Ukraine). Kharkiv: Delta Press, 256 pp. [In Ukrainian].

Carboni, M., Dengler, J., Mantilla-Contreras, J., Venn, S. & Torok, P. 2015: Conservation value, management and restoration of Europe’s semi-natural open landscapes. Hacquetia 14: 5–17.

Cheng, Y., Tsubo, M., Ito, T. Y., Nishihara, E. & Shinoda, M. 2011: Impact of rainfall variability and grazing pressure on plant diversity in Mongolian grasslands. Journal of Arid Environments 75: 471–476.

Dengler, J., Janišova, M., Torok, P. & Wellstein, C. 2014: Biodiversity of Palaearctic grasslands: a synthesis. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 182: 1–14.

Dinesman, L.G. 1977: Biogeotsenozi stepey v golotsene (Steppe ecosystems in Holocene). Nauka, Moskva, 159 pp. [In Russian].

Dupre, C. & Diekmann, M. 2001: Differences in species richness and life-history traits between grazed and abandoned grasslands in southern Sweden. Ecography 24: 275–286.

Giarrizzo, E., Burrascano, S., Zavattero, L. & Blasi, C. 2015: New methodological insights for the assessment of temporal changes in semi- natural dry grasslands plant species composition based on field data from the northern Apennines. Hacquetia 14: 19–32.

Gorelova, L. N. 2002: Rastitelnii pokrov Kharkovshchini (Plant cover of Kharkov Region). Kharkiv: Karazin National University Press, 231 pp. [In Russian].

Guldenstaedt, A. 1774: Dnevnik puteshestvia po Slobodsko- Ukrainskoi gubernii Akademica S-Peterburgskoi Akademii Nauk Gildenshtedta v avguste i sentiabre 1774 g. (Journal of travel of member of St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, Guldenstadt, in Slobodska-Ukrainian province in August and September 1774). Kharkiv, 88 pp. [In Russian].

Helm, A., Hanski, I. & Partel, M. 2006: Slow response of plant species richness to habitat loss and fragmentation. Ecology Letters 9: 72–77.

Janišova, M., Bartha, S., Kiehl, K. & Dengler, J. 2011: Advances in the conservation of dry grasslands – introduction to contributions from the 7th European Dry Grassland Meeting. Plant Biosystems 145: 507–513.

Levina, F. 1933: Zalyshky zilynnoi stepovoi roslynnosti na Kupianshchine u Velykoburluzkomu raioni (Remnants of virgin steppe vegetation in Kupiansk and Velykyi Burluk regions). Journal du Cycle botanique de l’Academie des Sciences d’Ukraine 5-6: 183–199. [In Ukrainian].

Ramensky, L. G. 1971: Problemi i metodi izucheniya rastitelnogo pokrova (Problems and methods of a study of vegetation cover). Nauka, Leningrad, 336 pp. [In Russian].

Ronkin, V. I. & Savchenko, G. A. 2004: Effect of cattle grazing on habitats for the steppe marmot (Marmota bobak) in north-eastern Ukraine. Vestnik zoologii 38 (1): 55–60.

Ronkin, V., Savchenko, G. & Tokarsky, V. 2009: The place of the steppe marmot in steppe ecosystems of Ukraine: an historical approach. Ethology Ecology & Evolution 21: 277–284.

Škornik, S., Vidrih, M. & Kaligarič, M. 2010: The effect of grazing pressure on species richness, composition and productivity in North Adriatic Karst pastures. Plant Biosystems 144: 355–364.

Torok, P., Valko, O., Deak, B., Kelemen, A. & Tothmeresz, B. 2014: Traditional cattle grazing in a mosaic alkali landscape: Effects on grassland biodiversity along a moisture gradient. PLoS ONE 9 (5): e97095.

Ugrinsky, K. A. 1918: Spisok bolee redkih rasteniy, sobrannih v Volchanskom uezde Kharkovskoy gubernii v 1916–1917 godu (A list of more rare plant species collected in Volchansk district of Kharkov province in 1916–1917).

Sinelnikovo: G. L. Satanovky Press, 27 pp. [In Russian]. Valko, O., Torok, P., Tothmeresz, B. & Matus, G. 2011: Restoration potential in seed banks of acidic fen and dry-mesophilous meadows: Can restoration be based on local seed banks? Restoration Ecology 19: 9–15.

Vassilev, K., Pedashenko, H., Nikolov, S.C., Apostolova, I. & Dengler, J. 2011: Effect of land abandonment on the vegetation of upland semi-natural grasslands in the Western Balkan Mts., Bulgaria. Plant Biosystems 145: 654–665.

Zhivotnovodstvo SSSR za 1916–1938 gg., 1940: (Livestock farming of USSR in 1916–1938). Moskva-Leningrad: Gosplanizdat, 219 pp. [In Russian]




How to Cite

Ronkin, V., & Savchenko, G. (2016). Flora and vegetation of dry grasslands of Northeastern Ukraine, and problems of diversity conservation. Hacquetia, 15(2). Retrieved from https://ojs.zrc-sazu.si/hacquetia/article/view/4642