Universitaet Bern Institute of Plant Sciences swissuniversity.ch  
Plant Sciences

Grassland Ecology


PD Dr. Andreas Stampfli

University of Bern
Altenbergrain 21
CH-3013 Bern
phone +41 31 631 49 33
fax +41 31 631 49 42
e-mail Andreas.Stampfli@ips.unibe.ch

Postdoc researcher
Dr. Michaela Zeiter

Research Focus

Changes in land use and climatic variation affect semi-natural meadows. We are interested in the variability of structure and productivity across time and the mechanisms by which plant species with different life history traits regenerate and maintain species rich communities. Our observations and experiments are based on measurements in the field. Three long-term study sites are located in the Southern Alps. We run complementary studies on soil seed banks and growth of seedlings from different origin in a laboratory in the Botanical Garden Bern.


Automated instruments control the input of rain water to the meadow plots
Numerous plants flower in the third year after sowing
After 16 years of resumed mowing, Brachypodium pinnatum still dominates in this formerly abandoned meadow
Influence of drought on regeneration and vegetation change
(Swiss NSF grants 31-100612, 31-112639)

In the context of global climatic change ecologists expect that radical or irreversible vegetation changes, involving local extinctions and invasions, are most likely to follow extreme events.

Regeneration and long-term dynamics in grasslands of southern Switzerland
(Swiss NSF grant 31-55917.98)

Throughout Europe changes in land use have affected the plant species composition of meadows. This has led to an increased interest in processes which allow many species to regenerate and maintain species-rich meadows.

Vegetation dynamics in meadows and abandoned grasslands
(Swiss NSF grant 31-41922.94)

During a period of 10 years, from 1988 to 1997, we monitored the species composition in dry grasslands of high species richness at experimental sites in the ‘lower montane zone’ of the southern Alps in Switzerland.


List of publications

Peer-reviewed Articles

  • Preukschas, J; Zeiter, M; Fischer, M & Stampfli, A. 2014. Biotic resistance to plant invasion in grassland: Does seed predation increase with resident plant diversity? Basic and Applied Ecology 15 (2) 133–141. [pdf]
  • Zeiter M., Preukschas J. & Stampfli A. 2013. Seed availability in hay meadows: Land-use intensification promotes seed rain but not the persistent seed bank. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 171: 55-62. [pdf]
  • Zeiter M. & Stampfli A. 2012. Positive diversity-invasibility relationship in species-rich semi-natural grassland at the neighbourhood scale. Annals of Botany 110 (7): 1385-1393
  • Stampfli A. & Fuhrer J. 2010. Spatial heterogeneity confounded ozone-exposure experiment in semi-natural grassland. Oecologia 162 (2): 515-522. [pdf]
  • Zeiter M. & Stampfli A. 2008. Long-term assessment of seed provenance effect on the establishment of the perennial grass Bromus erectus. Journal of Vegetation Science 19: 821-830. [pdf] [supplement]
  • Stampfli A. & Zeiter M. 2008. Mechanisms of structural change derived from patterns of seedling emergence and mortality in a semi-natural meadow. Journal of Vegetation Science 19 (4): 563-574. [pdf]
  • Zeiter M., Stampfli A., Newbery DM. 2006. Recruitment limitation constrains local species richness and productivity in dry grassland. Ecology 87 (4): 942-951. [pdf]
  • Stampfli A. & Zeiter M. 2004. Plant regeneration directs changes in grassland composition after extreme drought: a 13-year study in southern Switzerland. Journal of Ecology, 92 (4): 568-576. [pdf]
  • Kupferschmid A.D., Stampfli A. & Newbery D.M. 2000. Dispersal and microsite limitation in an abandoned calcareous grassland of the southern Prealps. Folia Geobotanica 35: 125-141. [pdf]
  • Stampfli A. & Zeiter M. 1999. Plant-species decline due to abandonment of meadows cannot easily be reversed by mowing. A case study from the southern Alps. Journal of Vegetation Science 10: 151-164. [pdf]
  • Stampfli A. 1995. Species composition and standing crop variation in an unfertilized meadow and its relationship to climatic variability during six years. Folia Geobotanica & Phytotaxonomica, Praha, 30: 117-130.
  • Stampfli A. 1992. Year-to-year changes in unfertilized meadows of great species richness detected by point quadrat analysis. Vegetatio 103: 125-132.
  • Stampfli A. 1992. Effects of mowing and removing litter on reproductive shoot modules of some plant species in abandoned meadows of Monte San Giorgio. Botanica Helvetica 102: 85-92.
  • Stampfli A. 1991. Accurate determination of vegetational change in meadows by successive point quadrat analysis. Vegetatio 96 (2): 185-194.

Other Articles

Refereed Book Chapters

  • Stampfli A. 2001. Did recent climatic shifts affect productivity of grass-dominated vegetation in southern Switzerland? Evidence from time series of two semi-natural grasslands and a maize field. In: Walther G.-R., Burga C.A. & Edwards P.J. (eds.) "FINGERPRINTS" of CLIMATE CHANGE - Adapted behaviour and shifting species ranges, 249-261. Kluwer Academic / Plenum Publishers, New York & London.
  • Stampfli A. & Zeiter M. 2001. Species responses to climatic variation and land-use change in grasslands of southern Switzerland. In: Burga C.A. & Kratochwil A. (eds.) Biomonitoring, 107-124. Kluwer, Dordrecht.
  • Stampfli A., Guggisberg F., Berli S. & Pestalozzi H. 1994. The abandoned Danthonia alpina-meadows on Monte San Giorgio, evidence of floristical changes and suggested management practices. In: Lotter A. & Ammann B. (eds.) Festschrift Gerhard Lang. Dissertationes Botanicae 224: 59-78.


  • Antognoli C., Guggisberg F., Häfelfinger S., Lörtscher M. & Stampfli A. 1995. Prati magri ticinesi tra passato e futuro. Memoria 5, Società ticinese di scienze naturali. Poncioni, Losone.

People trained

Dissertation theses

  • Zeiter Michaela 2005. Regeneration by seed in semi-natural grasslands. Inauguraldissertation Universität Bern.

Diploma thesis

  • Schärer Sara 2006. Effect of seasonal droughts on reproductive output of a grassland community in Southern Switzerland.
  • Holzer Brigitte 2000. Untersuchungen zur Langlebigkeit von Diasporen im Boden: Ein Aspekt bei der Beurteilung der ‘Restaurierungschancen’ artenreicher Wiesen aus Graslandbrachen.
  • Graf Oliver 1999. Reproduktionsprozesse in einem Halbtrockenrasen bei wechselnder Bewirtschaftung.
  • Kupferschmid Andrea D. 1999. Dispersal and microsite limitation in an abandoned calcareous grassland on Monnte San Giorgio.
  • Zeiter Michaela 1997. Experimentelle Untersuchungen zur Keimung und Etablierung von Wiesenarten in gemähten und abgebrannten Flächen einer Graslandbrache.
  • Gerber Nadine 1996. Die artenreichen Wiesen von Negrentino (gemeinsam mit S. Studer).
  • Studer Sibylle 1996. Die artenreichen Wiesen von Negrentino (gemeinsam mit N. Gerber).
  • Guggisberg Fredi 1990. Verbuschende Wiesen und Weiden auf dem Monte San Giorgio / TI.