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Studies in the Grazing of Heather Moorland in North-East Scotland. V. Trends in nardus Stricta and Other Unpalatable Graminoids

D. Welch
Journal of Applied Ecology
Vol. 23, No. 3 (Dec., 1986), pp. 1047-1058
DOI: 10.2307/2403954
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2403954
Page Count: 12
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Studies in the Grazing of Heather Moorland in North-East Scotland. V. Trends in nardus Stricta and Other Unpalatable Graminoids
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Abstract

(1) Botanical composition, grazing treatment and trends in heather (Calluna vulgaris (L.) Hull.) were recorded for periods of 4-15 years at moorland sites ranging in altitude from 70 to 700 m. Tussocks of Nardus stricta L. in permanent 1-m2 areas were monitored yearly at three sites. (2) Changes in the cover of Juncus squarrosus L., Molinia caerulea (L.) Moench and Nardus were inversely related to cover trends in Calluna, but only weakly so. Juncus squarrosus was unresponsive, with only one significant change at its twenty sites; Molinia increased significantly at four sites where Calluna declined. (3) Nardus showed many small increases in cover which were counterbalanced by large decreases at two of its twenty-three sites, giving a negligible overall trend. Increases were largest at sheep-grazed sites, but no significant general relationship could be shown with grazing type. (4) Nardus changes were more consistently related to the state of Calluna as expressed by percentage cover x height than to the trends of Calluna cover. Nardus declined once Calluna mean height exceeded 15 cm. At one site heavy cattle grazing reduced Nardus cover. (5) Many seedlings of Nardus became established, most in positions close to mature tussocks. (6) Increment in Nardus tussock diameter was little influenced by grazing, even though tussocks grazed in one summer were more likely to be grazed in the next. (7) It is concluded that Nardus will spread in grazed moorland unless soils are very dry or Calluna is present and allowed to grow tall for periods of several years.

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