The influence of experimental cutting of reedmarsh vegetation on spider fauna in the Blankaart, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium

  • Published source details Decleer K. (1990) Experimental cutting of reedmarsh vegetation and its influence on the spider (Araneae) fauna in the Blankaart nature reserve, Belgium. Biological Conservation, 52, 161-185


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Cut/mow herbaceous plants to maintain or restore disturbance: freshwater marshes

Action Link
Marsh and Swamp Conservation
  1. Cut/mow herbaceous plants to maintain or restore disturbance: freshwater marshes

    A replicated, controlled study in 1978–1984 in a freshwater marsh in Belgium (Decleer 1990) reported that cut plots consistently contained more plant species, less of two weedy herb species and shorter vegetation than uncut plots, but reported that other effects on vegetation depended on the season/frequency of cutting. Statistical significance was not assessed. After six years, cut plots contained 17–23 plant species (compared to only 6–11 species in uncut plots). Bindweed Calystegia sepium and common nettle Urtica dioica were less abundant in cut than uncut plots, whereas common reed Phragmites australis was more abundant in cut plots (data reported as abundance classes). In cut plots, vegetation other than common reed was only 58–93 cm tall (vs uncut: 111–135 cm). In winter-cut plots, common reed was only 84 cm tall (vs summer-cut: 128–154 cm; uncut: 130–154 cm). Summer-cut plots had only 57–62% horizontal vegetation cover (vs winter-cut: 95%; uncut: 80–99%). Summer-cut plots had 5% cover of bare ground (i.e. not covered by vegetation or litter; vs 0% in winter-cut and uncut plots). Methods: Ten 300-m2 plots were established in areas of degraded, weed-invaded marsh. Vegetation in the marsh was historically cut, but had not been since the 1950s. The marsh was also partially drained. Three plots were cut by hand: two plots once each winter (November–March) from 1977/1978, and one plot twice each summer (July and September) from 1978. The other seven plots were left uncut. Vegetation was surveyed in summer (May–August) 1984. Horizontal cover was measured by viewing vegetation against a vertical board. This study may have used the same plots as (2) and (3), but this was not clearly reported.

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

Output references

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, terrestrial mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 18

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape Programme Red List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Bern wood Supporting Conservation Leaders National Biodiversity Network Sustainability Dashboard Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx British trust for ornithology Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Butterfly Conservation People trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust