Grassland Ecology

Our research and services in the field of grassland ecology focus on the impacts of management practices, drought and invasive species upon vegetation.

Our research explores the impacts of changed management practices and extreme aridity in semi-natural and intensively managed grassland. We study structural and functional changes in vegetation and soils. We are interested in site-appropriate management interventions and ways to ecologically upgrade degraded grassland.


  • Ecosystems and biodiversity
  • Ecological processes and spatial-temporal vegetation patterns
  • Seed ecology
  • Vegetation monitoring
  • Restoration of dry grasslands and wetlands
  • Management recommendations


This new SNSF research grant started in 2019.

The research team is undertaking field experiments to study the effects of extreme summer drought, productivity, propagule pressures and origin of plant species on the susceptibility to invasion of twelve hay meadows over a gradient of management intensity in six regions of Switzerland (Jura, Central Plateau, northern Alpine foreland, Central Alps, Southern Alps und southern Alpine foreland). In their analysis the team is particularly interested in identifying factors and interactions which increase the risk of biodiversity decline and ecosystem service degradation.

Since 1988, HAFL grassland ecologists have been studying the causes of fluctuations in species composition and yields in species-rich meadows in a number of different projects. In the Blenio Valley for example they have been recording quantitative vegetation data and data on soil moisture in the Negrentino dry meadow, supplementing the long-range series of observations with specific field experiments. The research focus is on long-term impacts of weather fluctuations and management changes on the ecosystem.


Are you interested in working with us or would you like to know more about our research in grassland ecology? Please contact us.