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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Alternative management on fens, response of vegetation to grazing and mowing

Published source details

Stammel B., Kiehl K. & Pfadenhauer J. (2003) Alternative management on fens, response of vegetation to grazing and mowing. Applied Vegetation Science, 6, 245-254


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

Use grazing to maintain or restore disturbance Peatland Conservation

A replicated, paired, site comparison study in 32 fen meadows in Germany (Stammel et al. 2003) found that grazed meadows contained a significantly different plant community with fewer species than mown meadows, but there was no difference in vegetation height or biomass. Meadows grazed or mown for at least 10 years had different overall plant communities (data reported as a graphical analysis). Grazed meadows contained fewer plant species than mown meadows, per meadow (71 vs 79) and per 25 m2 plot (43 vs 51), and fewer fen-characteristic plant species (18 vs 19 species/plot). Meadows did not differ significantly in vegetation height (grazed: 19; mown: 24 cm) or above-ground biomass (grazed: 954; mown: 1,103 g/m2). Of the 32 studied meadows, 16 were open to cattle (<0.5/ha) each summer and 16 were mown each autumn. In August (year not reported), cover of every plant species was recorded in 25 m2 plots: 58 across the grazed meadows and 51 across the mown meadows. Vegetation height was measured at three points in each meadow. Biomass was cut from three 25 x 25 cm quadrats then dried and weighed.

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)

Maintain traditional water meadows (includes management for breeding and/or wintering waders/waterfowl) Farmland Conservation

A replicated, site comparison study of 16 paired (adjacent) grazed and mown fens in southern Germany (Stammel et al. 2003) found that plant species richness was significantly higher in mown compared to grazed sites, but the percentage of typical fen species or Red Data Book species did not differ. Mown sites had 206 species (50/25 m² plot) compared to 195 (43/25 m² plot) in grazed sites. Numbers of typical fen species (18-19/25 m² plot) and Red Data Book species (6-7/25 m² plot) were similar. Species tended to differ in frequency and abundance in the two treatments. Grazing favoured grasses (35 vs 29%), small plants and meadow plants (55 vs 49%) which were taller. Tree and moss species did not differ (2% and 14-15% respectively). Vegetation height and above-ground biomass did not differ between treatments, whereas species traits tended to differ in their response to management. More indicator species of wet soil conditions and species adapted to flooding were found on pasture. Sites were mown from September or moderately grazed (< 0.5 young cattle/ha) from May-October; grazing had been continuous for at least ten years. Cover of plant species was sampled in 109 vegetation plots (5 x 5 m), with the number of plots/site depending on fen size. Three biomass samples (25 x 25 cm) were also taken from each site.

 

Cut/mow herbaceous plants to maintain or restore disturbance Peatland Conservation

A replicated, paired, site comparison study in 32 fen meadows in southern Germany (Stammel et al. 2003) found that mown meadows contained a significantly different plant community and more plant species than grazed meadows, but there was no difference in vegetation height or biomass. Meadows mown or grazed for at least 10 years had different overall plant communities (data reported as a graphical analysis). Mown meadows contained more plant species than grazed meadows, per meadow (mown 79; grazed: 71 species) and per 25 m2 plot (mown: 51; grazed: 43 species), and more fen-characteristic species (mown: 19; grazed: 18 species/plot). Meadows did not differ significantly in vegetation height (mown: 24; grazed: 19 cm) or above-ground biomass (mown: 1,103; grazed: 954 g/m2). Of the 32 studied meadows, 16 were mown each autumn and 16 were open to cattle (<0.5/ha) each summer. In August (year not reported), cover of every plant species was recorded in 25 m2 plots: 51 across the mown meadows and 58 across the grazed meadows. Vegetation height was measured at three points in each meadow. Biomass was cut from three 25 x 25 cm quadrats then dried and weighed.

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)