Changes in the species composition in an area dominated by Deschampsia flexuosa (L.) trin. as a result of cattle grazing

  • Published source details Bülow-Olsen A. (1980) Changes in the species composition in an area dominated by Deschampsia flexuosa (L.) trin. as a result of cattle grazing. Biological Conservation, 18, 257-270.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use fences to exclude livestock from shrublands

Action Link
Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Use fences to exclude livestock from shrublands

    A controlled study in 1974–1978 in a heathland in Denmark (Bulow-Olsen 1980) found that using fences to exclude livestock from shrublands increased the presence of common heather Calluna vulgaris but did not affect the presence of wavy-hair grass Deschampsia flexuosa. Five years after fence construction, common heather was present in 70% of fenced plots while it was only present in 13% of unfenced plots. However, the percentage of plots in which wavy-hair grass was present did not differ significantly between fenced (82%) and unfenced areas (81%). In 1974 eighteen 25 m2 areas were fenced to exclude livestock. Every year in 1974–1978 vegetation was recorded in eighteen 1 m2 plots located in the fenced areas and thirty-two 1 m2 plots in the unfenced areas.

    (Summarised by: Phil Martin)

  2. Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

    A replicated controlled trial in Denmark, from 1974 to 1978 (Bülow-Olsen 1980) found that re-introducing cattle grazing on abandoned agricultural grassland reduced the frequency of heather Calluna vulgaris and wavy hair grass Deschampsia flexuosa, but did not consistently increase the number of plant species. There were increases in the number of plant species under intensive grazing in the area that had the fewest plant species at the start of the experiment, abandoned 14 years before, but colonization was very slow. Wavy hair grass decreased the most under normal grazing, reducing from 92 to 70% cover on average, intensive grazing had a lesser effect. Heather reduced the most under intensive grazing (from 71% to 6% cover on average). A 59 ha area of hill pasture was subjected to four levels of grazing intensity: ungrazed, lightly grazed, normally grazed and intensively grazed. Grazing took place two to four times a year, in late spring and late summer. There were three fields: one abandoned in 1910 (64 years before), one in 1960 (14 years before) and one grazed every year since 1910. Vegetation was sampled in July each year on 52 x 1 m2 quadrats across all treatments.


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