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 following.

Action Category

Reduce number of livestock

Action Link
Shrubland and Heathland Conservation
  1. Reduce number of livestock

    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)

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