Effects of long-term grazing management on sand dune vegetation of high conservation interest

  • Published source details Plassmann K., Jones M.L.M. & Edwards-Jones G. (2010) Effects of long-term grazing management on sand dune vegetation of high conservation interest. Applied Vegetation Science, 13, 100-112.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use grazing to maintain or restore disturbance: freshwater marshes

Action Link
Marsh and Swamp Conservation
  1. Use grazing to maintain or restore disturbance: freshwater marshes

    A replicated, before-and-after study in 1987–2003 of dune slacks within one sand dune system in Wales, UK (Plassmann et al. 2010) found that following the reintroduction of grazers, plots retained the same overall plant community type but developed greater plant species richness and diversity. The overall plant community type was the same in each plot before and after grazers were introduced. Each plot started with a community characteristic of wetter marshy or drier shrubby slacks, and retained that community over six months to 16 years of grazing (data not reported). However, averaged across both wetter and drier community types, there were increases in total plant species richness (before grazers introduced: 20; after grazers introduced: 27 species/4 m2) and diversity (data reported as a diversity index). More specifically, there were increases in richness of grass-like plants (before: 5; after: 8 species/4 m2) and indicator species for the dune slack communities (18% higher after grazers were introduced). Grazing had no significant effect on richness of bryophytes (2 species/4 m2 before and after) or lichens (<1 species/4 m2 before and after). Methods: At 1–7 year intervals between 1987 and 2003, vegetation was surveyed in 21 permanent 4-m2 plots. The plots were all within dune slacks (low-lying areas between dune ridges; some wetter, some drier) that had been grazed until the 1950s but had since become overgrown. Livestock (cattle, sheep and/or ponies at “low densities”) were introduced to the land containing each plot at various points between late 1987 and 2001. Rabbits were also present in the dune system.

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

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