Management of upland calcareous grasslands for target vascular plant community impacts upon abundance but not diversity of non‑target bryophytes

ASHLEY LYONS, Samantha Turner, PAUL ASHTON

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Calcareous grasslands, valued for their high species richness and diversity, are a European nature conservation priority. Their plagioclimax nature means that appropriate management is vitally important for their survival. This is usually aimed at conserving characteristic vascular plants, with less charismatic groups typically overlooked when implementing management. Consequently, evidence of impacts of contrasting management practices on a range of taxonomic groups is lacking. One such group are bryophytes which are often abundant in grasslands, contributing a substantial amount to overall plant diversity as well as being important for ecosystem processes such as carbon and nitrogen cycling. This study investigates aspects of bryophyte diversity in internationally rare upland calcareous grasslands subjected to conservation grazing which aims to conserve characteristic vascular plant communities versus those subjected to decade long cessation of grazing which are managed to promote increased structural heterogeneity across the landscape. Sampling across the range of management treatments was undertaken in June–July 2013 and 2014 where per cent cover of bryophytes was recorded in 0.5 m×0.5 m quadrats along with sward height. Bryophyte abundance was greater in grazed grasslands than ungrazed grasslands, though there was no difference in species richness, diversity or the proportion of life history strategies between the management types. Hence the non-target group is not adversely affected by the management regime. The rarity of ungrazed calcareous grasslands in the uplands, coupled with their importance for various taxa warrants the continuation of this management practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1023-1036
Number of pages14
JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
Volume31
Issue number3
Early online date18 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Composition
  • Grazing
  • Life history trait
  • Moss
  • Uplands

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