Slow recovery of heather (Calluna vulgaris L.(Hull)) in Scottish moorland after easing of heavy grazing pressure from red deer (Cervus elaphus L.)

  • Published source details Welch D., Scott D., Mitchell R. & Elston D.A. (2006) Slow recovery of heather (Calluna vulgaris L.(Hull)) in Scottish moorland after easing of heavy grazing pressure from red deer (Cervus elaphus L.). Botanical Journal of Scotland, 58, 1-17.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Reduce numbers of large herbivores

Action Link
Shrubland and Heathland Conservation
  1. Reduce numbers of large herbivores

    A replicated study in 1991–2001 in two moorland sites in the Cairngorms, UK (Welch et al. 2006) found that reducing grazing pressure by red deer Cervus elaphus increased the cover and height of heather Calluna vulgaris. Nine years after the reduction of grazing pressure by deer, the cover of heather had increased by 6% in one site and by 2% in the other. Additionally, mean height of heather increased from 17 cm to 19 cm in one site and from 25 cm to 29 cm in the other. Deer numbers were reduced by culling and, in one site, grazing pressure was also reduced by localized winter feeding. As a result, between 1992 and 2001, the mean number of deer pellet groups on 60 m2 plots felt from 26.3 to 22.9 in one site and from 17.2 to 5.7 in the other. Sampling plots of 15 m x 4 m (90 in one site and 96 in the other) were visited annually and, at each plot, 25 measures of heather height were taken. Additionally, heather cover was measured at each plot using a sampling stick with four 8 cm diameter circles at 10 positions and by counting the circles containing heather.

    (Summarised by: Phil Martin)

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