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The Effects of Conservation Management of Reed Beds. II. The Flora and Litter Disappearance

Neil R. Cowie, William J. Sutherland, Marks K. M. Ditlhogo and Robert James
Journal of Applied Ecology
Vol. 29, No. 2 (1992), pp. 277-284
DOI: 10.2307/2404496
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2404496
Page Count: 8
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The Effects of Conservation Management of Reed Beds. II. The Flora and Litter Disappearance
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Abstract

1. The effects of management were determined by comparing pairs of adjacent cut and uncut reed (Phragmites australis) beds at 12 sites, and by a randomized block experiment at a further site in which plots of reed were cut, burnt or left unmanaged. 2. Most plant species were more abundant in the managed reed beds than the unmanaged ones, and only three were more abundant in the unmanaged beds. Several were more common in burnt than cut plots. 3. Reeds were shorter and at higher densities where cut or burnt than where unmanaged. The proportion of reed flowering stems was highest in burnt plots. 4. The rate of decomposition of reed leaf litter at the experimental site was determined by weight loss from litter bags and leaf bundles. There was no difference in weight loss and no difference in associated soil invertebrates between treatments. 5. However, weight loss was inversely related to water depth in the plots and after 6 weeks correlated with the number of Oligochaetes, Psychodid larvae and some Coleoptera. 6. Cutting and burning positively affected floristic diversity and most marsh plants, but had no effect on the rate of litter breakdown.

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