We revisited 44 remnants of historically species-rich meadows in two regions in Estonia in order to evaluate their importance in harbouring meadow species. We used Ellenberg's indicator values (EIV), diversity and evenness indices and species functional traits (CSR strategy, height, clonal mobility, ramet life span) to analyse changes in vegetation and habitat conditions. Habitat loss resulted in similar amount of loss of both meadow specialists and generalists. Only meadow specialists were negatively affected by cessation of management in meadows unmown for more than 10 years in South Estonia. The largest change was an increase in Ellenberg's indicator value (EIV) of nutrients. We found a significant decline in typical meadow species (e.g. Briza media, Primula farinosa) and an increase in strong competitors. Species in the remnant meadows tended to have increased clonal mobility and shortened ramet life span, indicating fertile habitats. The ecological conditions became unfavourable for meadow species which prefer high illumination and unfertile conditions. The remnant meadows have largely lost the floristic diversity of the original nutrient-poor or moist species-rich meadows.
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