Fertilizer application during primary succession changes the structure of plant and herbivore communities

  • Published source details Rowe E.C., Healey J.R., Edwards-Jones G., Hills J., Howells M. & Jones D.L. (2006) Fertilizer application during primary succession changes the structure of plant and herbivore communities. Biological Conservation, 4, 510-522.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Restore or create new habitats after mining and quarrying

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Restore or create new habitats after mining and quarrying

    A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 2000–2001 in a former slate quarry in North Wales, UK (Rowe et al. 2006) found that applying fertilizer to trees on slate waste tips did not increase the abundance of caterpillars. On fertilized birch and willow trees in a former quarry, the number of caterpillars (1.3 individuals/m2 leaf) was not significantly different from the number on unfertilized trees in the quarry (1.0 individuals/m2 leaf) or on trees in undisturbed woodland (2.0 individuals/m2 leaf). Twenty birch Betula spp. and 20 willow Salix spp. trees were selected in an area of nutrient-poor slate waste which had been partly colonized by trees over 40–100 years since quarrying. The site was grazed by sheep at low density (0.1 ewes/ha). On 23 May 2000 and 2001, fertilizer (175 kg nitrogen/ha, 53 kg phosphorus/ha, 188 kg potassium/ha) was applied to a 2.25 m2 plot around 10 trees of each species. In May, June and July 2000 and 2001, a small branch (4–5 mm diameter) from the top of each birch tree was enclosed in a bag and cut, and the caterpillars collected in the bag were counted. In 2001 only, caterpillars were sampled from willow trees using the same method. Each year, caterpillars were also sampled from 10 trees of the same species from an adjacent, undisturbed woodland.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

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