Strenthening of residual populations of Jurinea cyanoides in the North Harz foreland and at the river Saale as well as mentoring of further populations in Saxony-Anhalt

  • Background


    Jurinea cyanoides is listed in the Annex II of the European Habitats Directive as a priority species, so the strengthening of populations with an unfavorable conservation status and avoiding the degradation of populations with a favorable conservation status are necessary. This poorly competitive species is well adapted to dry conditions such as sandy arid grasslands (natural habitat types 2330, 6120). It is listed as critically endangered (status 2) in the Red List of endangered species of Germany and Saxony-Anhalt. The largest German populations are found in Hesse, Baden-Württemberg and Saxony-Anhalt. In addition to the German populations, the only other population of Jurinea cyanoides in Central Europe is in the Czech Republic.

    Due to changing or complete abandonment of historical land use, such as pasturing, firing, and ridge cutting, biomass is not removed from the habitat any more. Along with nitrogen input, this results in litter accumulation, increased growth of shrubs and trees, and the absence of bare soil, which is necessary for Jurinea cyanoides to establish. These conditions lead to a strong and continuing decline of Jurinea cyanoides. There were 19 existing populations at the start of this project, but another 46 were known to have recently become extinct. Five of the recent populations contain less than 100 shoots. In order to maintain Jurinea cyanoides in the long term, it is necessary to prevent the extinction of small populations and enlarge the populations. This can be realized by a special management creating suitable habitat conditions. Furthermore, Jurinea cyanoides has to be reintroduced at appropriate sites where it appeared in former times.

  • Project area and implementation

    Project area and implementation

    All project areas are located within Saxony-Anhalt and can be divided into three regions: The Elbe region with populations near Gerwisch, Lübs, Gödnitz and Steckby; the Saale region with the last existing population of Jurinea cyanoides near Wettin; and the North Harz Foothills region, whose populations are shown on the map.

    In the projects of the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, which have been running since 2008, reintroductions, population strengthening and maintenance measures for the promotion of Jurinea cyanoides have been carried out at a total of eleven sites in Saxony-Anhalt.



  • Strengthening of Populations

    Strengthening of Populations

    At the river Elbe, Jurinea cyanoides grows on sand dunes. In winter 2008/2009, we recreated suitable habitat conditions at three populations near the villages of Lübs, Gödnitz and Steckby in the biosphere reserve “Mittlere Elbe”. In an area of 500 - 1700 m², where vegetation was dominated by highly competitive species such as Carex arenaria and Calamagrostis epigejos, we removed the upper soil layer including the vegetation by use of a caterpillar. In order to create nutrient-poor conditions and bare soil, we banked up sand from deeper soil layers. At Gödnitz, we enlarged the grassland by removing encroaching Pinus sylvestris and Robinia pseudocacia. To consolidate the small populations near Gödnitz and Steckby (+/- 100 shoots), we sowed 1500 - 3000 seeds of Jurinea cyanoides. The seeds derive from the garden of the biosphere reserve “Mittlere Elbe” and from the largest population in Saxony-Anhalt, the Lübser Heuberg. We informed people in the villages nearby by creating and disseminating information pamphlets. The population in Gödnitz is with 50.000 shoots one of the bigest one among Lübser Heuberg and Weinberg Ost in Saxony-Anhalt.

    In the current project there will be strenthenings of the populations in the North Harz foreland at the sides Großer Thekenberg near Harsleben, Steinbruch Rümken and Kleiner Lehhof near Westerhausen as well as at the dry sand lawn in the north of Gerwisch near Magdeburg. For some of the reintroduction plots a removal of the topsoil layer (5 cm) via brush cutter is necessary to create enough bare soil for the application of the seeds.

    A seed propagation culture is to be established for the population near Mücheln (Wettin) during the project period. The particular difficulty here is that the population can only be collected in years with sufficient precipitation, as drought stress otherwise also prevents flowering and seed maturation in the case of Jurinea cyanoides.


  • Reintroductions


    In spring 2010, we reintroduced Jurinea cyanoides at Blankenburg northwest of the mountain Harz near the population “Sassenberg”, which went extinct in 2005/2006. As a compensation measure for road construction, several sandy hills with a total size of 6 hectares were banked up. At the south-exposed side of the “Weinberg Ost”, where the vegetation was spare, we sowed about 6000 seeds, propagated at the garden of the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences and originating mainly from the “Großer Thekenberg” population. In autumn of 2013 7.100 shoots of Jurinea cyanoides were growing on the “Weinberg Ost”.

    At the Mühlberg near Steckby a population of Jurinea cyanoides existed in 1983, but is now extinct. Two populations nearby are also extinct. By removing vegetation dominated by Carex arenaria and banking up sand in Winter 2010/2011 we reducend competition in an area of 1600 m² and build a small hill. We sowed 8000 seeds, originating from the “Lübser Herberg” and cultivated at the garden of the biosphere reserve “Mittlere Elbe”.

    In winter 2011/2012 we introduced Jurinea cyanoides at the Oranienbaumer Heide with 2000 seeds originating from the “Lübser Heuberg”. In the same natural region, the “Elbe-Mulde-Tiefland” historical appearances of Jurinea cyanoides were to be found by example near the 15 km distant village “Mosigkau”. By extensive grasing on an area of 750 hectare in the “Oranienbaumer Heide” dynamic processes were initiated. On continuously disturbed soil sites we investigate the establishment of Jurinea cyanoides.

  • Further project activities

    Further project activities

    The populations of Jurinea cyanoides at the river Saale south of Mücheln (Wettin) population “Günthermannskopf” near the mountain Harz and "Steckby" and "Gödnitz" near the river Elbe will be deep mowed. In the winter 2017/2018 will be a clearence shrubs and small trees at the standort of Mücheln, which will retunr in following year. The grazing of goats at three populations in the Harz will be professional controlled. Aim is that at least one nearly two populations will be grassed for improving the standort. The four standorts which were seeded should maintrain as mowing and sampling wood. The scientific test of "Steckby", "Gödnitz" and the "Oranienbaumer-Heide" will be analyzed and documented. Since 2021, a general monitoring of almost all populations of Jurinea cyanoides in Saxony-Anhalt has been started in order to compare the development of the populations and, if necessary, to deduce the need for action.

    Also we propagate Jurinea cyanoides in the garden of the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences and the Schutzgarten Teufelsmauer.


  • Efficiency control and results

    Efficiency control and results

    In winter 2008/2009, a Latin-square-design study was conducted at the populations Gödnitz and Steckby to investigate the site requirements of Jurinea cyanoides and different methods to benefit the species. We compared the methods 1) topsoil inversion, 2) topsoil inversion with dumping of sods, 3) mowing and 4) original vegetation cover without prearrangement (control), each with four repetitions. The germination and mortality rate of 50 marked seeds of Jurinea  cyanoides were investigated for every method and repetition. Vegetation development was documented with vegetation surveys (Zacharias).

    The highest amount of vital and fertile Jurinea cyanoides and the largest shoots were found when applying the topsoil inversion method resulting in very scarce vegetation. Additional dumping of sods (method 2) resulted in denser vegetation cover, with Corynephorus canescens,Teesdalia nudicaulis and Rumex acetosella and less bare soil. Here, the vitality of Jurinea cyanoides was reduced. Dense vegetation cover - created by the mowing and no prearrangement methods - made it difficult for Jurinea  cyanoides to establish. The results suggest that, based on the dense vegetation cover present, many populations in Saxony-Anhalt are overaged and generative reproduction is scarcely possible or even impossible.


  • Future prospects

    Future prospects

    In the future, Jurinea cyanoides will require intensive protection measures in order to preserve or create nutrient-poor sandy soils. In addition to the preservation of current populations, reintroductions in suitable habitats are essential. The efficiency control experiment and care for the populations mentioned above will continue in the following years. The last increasing part of grazed populations of Jurinea cyanoides are positive ( eight out of nineteen populations are still grazed). The grazing should be adapted to the special standards of Jurinea cyanoides and be optimated for a decimation of the herb layer. The intake of not-grazed populations in grazing should be aimed. Populations with conditions not suitable for grazing should be improved by strong mowing which aerates the ground.



Project leader: Prof. Dr. Sabine Tischew
Researchers: M. Sc. Mark Pfau, M. Sc. Vera Maria Grünhage, B. Sc. Franka Beyer

Duration: 2008, 2009-2011; 2011-2013; 2013-2015; 2017-2020; 2020-2024


Funded by: : Europa-ELER, ELER-Sachsen-Anhalt,Landesverwaltungsamt Sachsen-Anhalt: ELER Sachsen-Anhalt, Förderperiode 2014–2020 (23)

Cooperation partner: Biosphärenreservat „Mittelelbe“, Bundesforstbetrieb Mittelelbe, nature conservation authorities, proprietors