Over the last decades, valuable natural areas considered as zones of silence and rest have been increasingly struggling with the problem of mass tourism. In this study, an investigation of the effect of visitors on the properties of vegetation of calcareous grasslands in the context of width and distances from tourist trails is performed. The study was conducted in seven localities in Cracow (southern Poland) involving calcareous grasslands impacted by tourist trails. The results show that the lower height of plants, the greater number of species and the greater percentage of plant cover damaged by trampling in plots located close to the edge of tourist trails, as well as lower total plant cover and greater mean cover-abundance degree per species along narrow pathways. The dominance of meadow and grassland species, as well as the prevalence of native species, suggests that the composition of the examined vegetation has not been drastically changed. In the majority of the study plots, the dominance of hemicryptophytes and chamaephytes, inconsiderable share of phanerophytes and therophytes, as well as the low share of geophytes, were observed. The infrequent occurrence of species presenting Bidens
dispersal type along narrow pathways, as well as in plots located close to the edge of tourist trails, suggests low external transport of epizoochorous seeds by passing people, while the prevalence of species presenting Cornus
type in plots located away from the edge of tourist trails might be the effect of dung deposition by animals.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited