Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If You Use a Screen Reader

This content is available through Read Online (Free) program, which relies on page scans. 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.

Rabbit Grazing, Plant Competition and Seedling Recruitment in Acid Grassland

Michael J. Crawley
Journal of Applied Ecology
Vol. 27, No. 3 (Dec., 1990), pp. 803-820
DOI: 10.2307/2404378
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2404378
Page Count: 18
  • Read Online (Free)
  • Download ($18.00)
  • Subscribe ($19.50)
  • Cite this Item
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.
Rabbit Grazing, Plant Competition and Seedling Recruitment in Acid Grassland
Preview not available

Abstract

(1) Two experiments were done to determine the effect of grazing by rabbits on plant recruitment in mature grassland and on cultivated soil. The first was a factorial experiment, with and without rabbit fencing, and with and without soil cultivation, carried out between 1986 and 1989 in acid grassland with a long history of rabbit grazing. In the second, carried out between 1982 and 1985 in two contrasting arable fields, rabbits grazed crops of winter wheat, with fencing exclosures erected at different times and for different durations. (2) Rabbit grazing affected the stature and composition of the grassland throughout the year. Species that increased in cover in rabbit-grazed grassland included the grass Anthoxanthum odoratum and the forb Rumex acetosella. Species that decreased included the grasses Festuca rubra and Agrostis capillaris and the forbs Vicia satwa and Trifolium repens. There was negligible change in the total number of plant species with grazing. (3) The cultivated treatments showed that the seed bank under the acid grassland was extremely heterogeneous. (4) Eight of the twenty-three commonest ruderal species beneath acid grassland decreased in cover significantly (e.g. Capsella bursa-pastoris and Papaver dubium), and none increased significantly. In contrast, most of the ruderal species in the seed bank of nearby arable soils increased under grazing. (5) Most plant species on cultivated grassland soils regenerated from vegetative fragments (e.g. Holcus mollis, Stellaria graminea, Rumex acetosa and R. acetosella), rather than by germination of seed. Regrowth shoots outnumbered seedlings by a factor of between 1.3 and 23.3. (6) The extent of spatial heterogeneity within and between plots in both the composition of the buried seed bank, and in recruitment by vegetative regrowth, highlights the need for large sample sizes in this kind of study. (7) The mechanisms that determine whether a plant species increases or decreases under grazing are discussed.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
803
    803
  • Thumbnail: Page 
804
    804
  • Thumbnail: Page 
805
    805
  • Thumbnail: Page 
806
    806
  • Thumbnail: Page 
807
    807
  • Thumbnail: Page 
808
    808
  • Thumbnail: Page 
809
    809
  • Thumbnail: Page 
810
    810
  • Thumbnail: Page 
811
    811
  • Thumbnail: Page 
812
    812
  • Thumbnail: Page 
813
    813
  • Thumbnail: Page 
814
    814
  • Thumbnail: Page 
815
    815
  • Thumbnail: Page 
816
    816
  • Thumbnail: Page 
817
    817
  • Thumbnail: Page 
818
    818
  • Thumbnail: Page 
819
    819
  • Thumbnail: Page 
820
    820