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Studies on the Conservation of Lowland Calluna Heaths. I. Control of Birch and Bracken and Its Effect on Heath Vegetation

R. H. Marrs
Journal of Applied Ecology
Vol. 24, No. 1 (Apr., 1987), pp. 163-175
DOI: 10.2307/2403795
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2403795
Page Count: 13
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Studies on the Conservation of Lowland Calluna Heaths. I. Control of Birch and Bracken and Its Effect on Heath Vegetation
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Abstract

(1) Open Calluna (Calluna vulgaris L. Hull) heath in much of lowland England is being invaded by bracken (Pteridium aquilinum L. Kuhn.), birch (Betula pendula Roth. and B. pubescens Ehrh.) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), and vegetation management is required urgently if these heaths are to be conserved. (2) Single and combined treatments were made of (a) 2,4,5-T applied by paintbrush to cut birch stumps, and (b) fosamine applied by foliar spray to both birch regrowth after cutting and bracken. The effects on both the target species, and the underlying heathland vegetation were assessed between 1980 and 1985. (3) Where birch was cut without herbicide application, recovery was rapid, overtopping the bracken between 3 and 6 years. However, where cut birch was treated with single herbicide treatments, the numbers of birch were reduced, but individuals that survived treatment recovered almost as quickly as those untreated. Where both herbicide treatments were applied all the birch was killed. Bracken frond density was reduced in the year after spraying, but recovered rapidly almost to untreated levels in 6 years. (4) The mature Calluna heath present in 1980 was reduced between 1980 and 1985. especially under dense bracken, and there was very little Calluna regeneration. Moreover, there was prolific establishment of both Deschampsia flexuosa (L.) Trin, and birch seedlings, especially where control treatments were applied. (5) These results are discussed in relation to various theories of heathland dynamics, and related where possible to practical management of lowland heaths.

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