Study

Enhancing diversity of species-poor grasslands: an experimental assessment of multiple constraints

  • Published source details Pywell R.F., Bullock J.M., Tallowin J.B., Walker K.J., Warman E.A. & Masters G. (2007) Enhancing diversity of species-poor grasslands: an experimental assessment of multiple constraints. Journal of Applied Ecology, 44, 81-94.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Sow seeds of parasitic species (e.g. yellow rattle)

Action Link
Grassland Conservation

Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Sow seeds of parasitic species (e.g. yellow rattle)

    A replicated, randomized, paired controlled study in 1999–2003 in two species-poor grassland sites in the UK (Pywell et al. 2007) found that disturbing soil and sowing seeds of the parasitic plant yellow rattle Rhinanthus minor did not alter the number of plant species compared to disturbing soil alone. In each of four years, plant species richness did not significantly differ between areas where soil was disturbed and yellow rattle seeds were sown (9.1–16.0 species/plot) and areas where soil was disturbed but seeds were not sown (11.0–16.2 species/plot). In September 1999, in eight 15 x 15 m plots at each site, soil was disturbed using a power-harrow to a depth of 5 cm and seeds of the plant yellow rattle were sown at a rate of 2.4 kg/ha. In eight other plots, soil was disturbed but no seeds were sown. All plots were paired. Vegetation composition was recorded in June 1999–2003 using five randomly placed 1 x 1 m quadrats/plot.

    (Summarised by: Philip Martin)

  2. Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

    A randomized, replicated and controlled trial in 1999-2003 of restoration methods at two sites in the UK (Pywell et al. 2007) found that turf removal followed by seed addition was the most effective means of increasing plant diversity. Multiple harrowing was moderately effective and was enhanced by applying snail/slug pesticide and sowing yellow rattle Rhinanthus minor (which reduced competition from grasses). Grazing, slot-seeding and inoculation with soil microbial communities from species-rich grasslands did not increase botanical diversity, and different grazing management regimes had little impact. Thirteen treatments were applied to 15 x 15 m plots at sites in Devon and Buckinghamshire, with eight replicates of each treatment. All treatments were managed with a single July hay cut.

     

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