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The Nature and Occurrence of Sand-Dune Machair in Ireland

J. A. Bassett and T. G. F. Curtis
Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section B: Biological, Geological, and Chemical Science
Vol. 85B (1985), pp. 1-20
Published by: Royal Irish Academy
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20494442
Page Count: 20
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The Nature and Occurrence of Sand-Dune Machair in Ireland
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Abstract

Areas of level, stable, coastal dune grassland over calcareous soils, called machair, have been extensively described from west and north-west Scotland. There, machair is found in areas having a moist, cool, oceanic but windy climate. Under similar conditions in western Ireland dune grassland is also found but the term machair has not been generally used. This paper assesses the characteristics of dune grassland sites and their similarities to Scottish machair. Twenty-six sites in western Ireland were visited in 1983 and data were collected on soils, site morphology, vegetation and human use. Meteorological data were collated from official statistics. Machair is found in Ireland from Galway Bay to Malin Head and closely resembles Scottish machair. Some slight differences between Irish and Scottish systems are apparent in the soils, climate and vegetation, the main difference being the human use of machair. In Ireland it is universally grazed and used for amenity purposes by the local inhabitants.

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