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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: The presence of sheep leads to increases in plant diversity and reductions in the impact of deer on heather

Published source details

DeGabriel J.L., Albon S.D., Fielding D.A., Riach D.J., Westaway S. & Irvine R.J. (2011) The presence of sheep leads to increases in plant diversity and reductions in the impact of deer on heather. Journal of Applied Ecology, 48, 1269-1277


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

Reduce number of livestock Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

A replicated, controlled, paired side, site comparison study in 2007–2009 in sixteen heathland sites in Scotland, UK (DeGabriel et al. 2011) found that reducing sheep numbers reduced the height of heather (plants of the family Ericaceae). In sites without sheep heather was shorter (13–34 cm) than in sites where sheep were present (17–32 cm). Sheep were removed from eight sites and eight sites were grazed by sheep. All sites were grazed by red deer Cervus elaphus, but deer numbers were higher in areas where sheep had been removed. Six to twelve 10 x 10 m plots were established at each site. Within each plot vegetation height and cover was measured at 40 points.

(Summarised by Phil Martin)