Spring grazing by sheep: effects on seasonal changes during early old field succession

  • Published source details Gibson C.W.D., Dawkins H.C., Brown V.K. & Jepsen M. (1987) Spring grazing by sheep: effects on seasonal changes during early old field succession. Vegetatio (now Plant Ecology), 70, 33-43.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

    A replicated, controlled study of an abandoned arable field in Oxfordshire, UK (Gibson et al. 1987a) found that spring grazing by sheep increased plant species richness. However, this was only evident at intermediate to large sampling scales, suggesting that differences arose from changes in rarer and widely dispersed species. Many annual herbs decreased in ungrazed paddocks in 1985, whilst some annual grasses and other perennial herbs and grasses increased. In grazed (spring or autumn) paddocks, many more species increased their distribution compared to ungrazed plots, particularly annual herbs. The field (12 ha) had been permanent pasture until 1960 and was then cultivated until 1981. In 1985, the central 90 x 90 m blocks of two 1 ha blocks were divided into nine paddocks, i.e. three replicates of three treatments. Vegetation was sampled within various quadrats by several methods in April, July, August and October 1984-1985. This study was part of the same experimental set-up as (Gibson et al. 1987b, Watt & Gibson 1988, Brown & Gibson 1994).


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