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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Vegetation change in an ombrotrophic mire in northern England after excluding sheep

Published source details

Smith R.S., Charman D., Rushton S.P., Sanderson R.A., Simkin J.M. & Shiel R.S. (2003) Vegetation change in an ombrotrophic mire in northern England after excluding sheep. Applied Vegetation Science, 6, 261-270


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

Exclude or remove livestock from degraded peatlands Peatland Conservation

A replicated, paired, controlled study in 1988–2002 in a grazed bog in England, UK (Smith et al. 2003) found that excluding sheep changed the plant community composition and vegetation cover in drier parts of the bog, but had no effect in wetter parts of the bog. Exclusion and grazed plots developed different plant communities over 14 years in drier areas, but retained similar communities to each other in wetter areas (data reported as graphical analyses). After 14 years, exclusion plots in dry areas had greater cover of heather Calluna vulgaris than grazed plots (exclusion: 7%; grazed: 1%) and less cover of Magellan’s bog moss Sphagnum magellanicum (exclusion: 8%; grazed: 23%). In both wet and dry areas, excluding sheep did not affect cover of other common plant species including cottongrasses Eriophorum spp. (exclusion: 4–23%; grazed: 6–19%) and other Sphagnum moss species (exclusion: 4–21%; grazed: 3–36%). In 1988, ten pairs of 20 x 20 m plots were established in a grazed bog: five pairs in the wetter central part of the bog and five pairs in the drier margins. Five plots (one plot/pair) were fenced to exclude sheep. The other plots remained grazed (0.65 sheep/ha). In 1988 and 2002, vegetation cover was visually estimated in ten 1 m2 quadrats/plot.

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)