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Environmental Analysis & Ecology Studies

Possibilities of Speciation Following Anthropogenous Environmental Changes in the Central Sandy Area of the Carpathian Basin through the Example of Festuca Taxa

Károly Penksza1*, László Kovács2, Zsuzsa Lisztes Szabó3 and Gergely Pápay1

1,2Szent István University, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Hungary

3Isotope Climatology and Environmental Research Centre, Institute for Nuclear Research, Hungary

*Corresponding author: Károly Penksza, Szent István University, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Institute of Crop Production Sciences, Páter K. u. 1. H-2100 Gödöllő, Hungary

Submission: October 13, 2020Published: March 26, 2021

DOI: 10.31031/EAES.2021.08.000683

ISSN 2578-0336
Volume8 Issue2


Our goal is to check and revise the dominant Festuca species of vegetation types formed under extraordinary conditions through morpho-taxonomic and ploidy analyses. To accomplish this, we had to add examinations of dominant species in grasslands further from the Danube in the Carpathian Basin and East Central Europe. Individuals of examined taxa were analysed using 26 parameters of the inflorescences. Ploidy was analysed using low cytometry. After deforestation and shrubcutting, bare soil patches of areas exposed to anthropogenous effects had provided an opportunity new vegetation to form. As a result of this work, new species Festuca pseudovaginata had been discovered here, which is endemic in the Carpathian Basin. Survey continues in order to clear other hardly identificable taxa. The results have confirmed the presence of the species, but we also have new occurences discovered.

We verified F. vaginata and F. pseudovaginata from open sandy areas. In closing grasslands F. javorkae and F. wagneri appears. In Slovakia we found F. wagneri and F. pseudovaginata as new species in the country’s flora. We could add new appearance data of F. javorkae and describe F. brevipila as a new taxon of the Hungarian flora. Furthermore, a possibly new species also appeared during our research, on which we found distinctive morphological features, but to describe it as new species it needs further ITS analyses.

Keywords: Festuca vaginata; Festuca psammophila series; Sandy vegetation


Those taxa of Festuca species in the Carpathian Basin which have bowed base and stem leaves are identified and mentioned by various authors as belonging to the aggregation of Festuca ovina [1-9]. These taxa can be identified easily based on their characteristic tissue structure and molecular genetic analyses [10-16]. Pawlus [17] separated a new series within the Festuca genus. This is the psammophila series, which includes F. polesica Zapal, F. vaginata W. K., F. psammophila Host., F. pallens. Subsequently, Šmarda et al. [17] added F. pseudovaginata Penksza and F. glaucina Stohr. to it.

The species which were determinate in the original natural vegetation [18] were expected to appear on the new bare soil patches. So, we wanted to answer the question: on new surfaces formed by human interventions, is there a possibility to form new vegetation units and species, or will the natural vegetation and its main species appear?

Material and Methods

The Festuca individuals collected in the Carpathian Basin were put through morphological and ploidy examination. Meanwhile, we made coenological records in every type of sandy grasslands along the Danube from Austria to Romania. Furthermore, we set up a collection of living plants, which ensures individuals growing in the same conditions to molecular surveys. We also modelled the appearance, composition and dominant species of new vegetation on bare soil surfaces. The area has been being managed since 2006. The study area lies on the Pest plain near the left bank of the Danube.


Based on our results, we confirmed the appearance of Festuca vaginata, F. psudovaginata, F. javorkae, F. wagneri in the natural grasslands, and discovered new occurrences of F. brevibila and F. javorkae in the area. In Slovakia, F wagneri appeared as a new species of the flora of the country. Festuca pseudovaginata habits only the Pannon region, we found endemic and natural stands of it, but on secondary habitats it was confirmed as a completely new species. Furthermore, taxa of disturbed vegetations are being examined. These habitats are potential hotspots of speciation.

On bare soil surfaces of areas exposed to anthropogenous effects, two species of the genus Festuca have become dominant. One of them, Festuca pseudovaginata was described as a new species [18] and is endemic in the Carpathian Basin [19]. Examinations are being continued in order to clear hardly identifiable taxa. Our survey has confirmed the occurrence of the species so far, and we discovered new occurrences too.


he work was supported by OTKA K-125423. Author LSZ was supported by the European Union and the State of Hungary, cofinanced by the European Regional Development Fund in project GINOP-2.3.2.-15-2016-00009 ‘ICER.’


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