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Response of the moss Racomitrium lanuginosum to changes in sheep grazing and snow-lie due to a snow-fence

Scott, David; Welch, David; van der Wal, Rene; Elston, David A.. 2007 Response of the moss Racomitrium lanuginosum to changes in sheep grazing and snow-lie due to a snow-fence. Applied Vegetation Science, 10 (2). 229-238. 10.1658/1402-2001(2007)10[229:ROTMRL]2.0.CO;2

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Abstract/Summary

Question: What are the responses of Racomitrium lanuginosum moss to altered snow-lie and sheep use? Location: A Carex bigelowii-Racomitrium lanuginosum heath on a Scottish montane plateau affected since 1986 by a fenced ski corridor. Methods: Permanent quadrats were set up along transects 45 m long perpendicular to the snow-fence. Cover was assessed over a 12-year period from 1990. Pellet-group clearance counts provided data on sheep usage between 1990 and 1996. Snow-lie was mapped in the springs of 1991–1996. Results: The snow-fence created a gradient in sheep use and altered the duration of snow-lie. At the start of monitoring Racomitrium cover was lower immediately adjacent to the fence, and after 12 years its cover was significantly reduced within 10 m of the fence. Further away from the fence Racomitrium cover was relatively stable. The loss of Racomitrium was correlated both with increased snow-lie and heavier sheep usage. Grass cover increased near the fence and was related to sheep use. Dicranum fuscescens responded differently to Racomitrium, increasing significantly near the fence. Conclusions: We found that changes in snow-lie and grazing pressure quickly brought about vegetation change in this montane ecosystem. Racomitrium was the most sensitive species to the changes in grazing and snow-lie caused by the fence, having the biggest initial changes. Loss of Racomitrium permitted increases of species more resistant to grazing including Dicranum fuscescens and grasses.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1658/1402-2001(2007)10[229:ROTMRL]2.0.CO;2
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity
CEH Sections: Watt
ISSN: 1402-2001
Format Availability: Electronic, Print
Additional Keywords: grazing, montane plateau, moss heath, ski development, snow, vegetation dynamics, Racomitrium lanuginosum
NORA Subject Terms: Botany
Agriculture and Soil Science
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 01 Aug 2007 11:46
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/661

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