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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Calcareous grassland annually burned or cut less than every two years loses plant species; a long term experiment in the Jura Mountains, Switzerland

Published source details

Ryser P., Lagenhauer R. & Gigon A. (1995) Species richness and vegetation structure in a limestone grassland after 15 years management with six biomass removal regimes. Folia Geobotanica and Phytotaxonomica, 30, 157-167


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Manage heather, gorse or grass by burning Farmland Conservation

A long-term replicated controlled trial from 1978 to 1993 in the Jura Mountains, Switzerland (Ryser et al. 1995), found calcareous grassland plots that were burned annually in February or March had fewer plant species after 13-15 years than plots cut annually or every second year (in October or July). Burned plots had 50 plant species/40 m2, and 31 species/m2 on average, compared to 53 species/40 m2 and 37 species/m2 on average in plots cut every year or two years. Burned plots did not have significantly more plant species than abandoned control plots with no management. Burning also changed the species composition, reducing the cover of one of the three most abundant species, meadow brome Bromus erectus, from around 40% in July-mown plots to around 10%. There were three replicate 50 m2 plots for each treatment, and the experimental management regimes were carried out from 1978 to 1993. The percentage cover of plant species was estimated in 40 m2 and 1 m2 sample areas in each plot, in the last week of June 1991 and 1993.

 

Delay mowing or first grazing date on pasture or grassland Farmland Conservation

A long-term replicated controlled trial from 1978 to 1993 in the Jura Mountains, Switzerland (Ryser et al. 1995) found that timing of mowing only slightly affected the number of plant species. Plots that were cut annually in October did not have fewer plant species than those cut annually in July or every second year (in July). October-cut plots had 59 plant species/40m2 and 45 species/m2 on average, compared to 56 species/40 m2 and 38 species/m2 on average for annually July-cut plots. Mowing in October changed the species composition, for example, by reducing the cover of one of the three most abundant species, meadow brome Bromus erectus, from around 40% in July-cut plots to around 20%. There were three replicate 50 m2 plots for each treatment, and the experimental management regimes were carried out from 1978 to 1993. The percentage cover of plant species was estimated in 40 m2 and 1 m2 sample areas in each plot, in the last week of June 1991 and 1993.

 

Maintain species-rich, semi-natural grassland Farmland Conservation

A long-term replicated controlled trial in the Jura Mountains near Schaufhaussen, Switzerland (Ryser et al. 1995) found plots that were cut annually (in July or October) or every second year (in July) retained a higher number of plant species than those burned, or cut less frequently than every two years. Frequently cut plots had 53 plant species/40 m2, and 37 species/m2 on average, compared to 45 species/40 m2 and 24 species/m2 on average for annually burned plots, those cut every fifth year and control unmanaged plots. There were three replicate 50 m2 plots for each treatment, and the experimental management regimes were carried out from 1978 to 1993. The percentage cover of plant species was estimated in 40 m2 and 1 m2 sample areas in each plot, in the last week of June 1991 and 1993.