Study

Differential responses of abandoned wet grassland plant communities to reinstated cutting management

  • Published source details Berg M., Joyce C. & Burnside N. (2012) Differential responses of abandoned wet grassland plant communities to reinstated cutting management. Hydrobiologia, 692, 83-97.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Cut/mow herbaceous plants to maintain or restore disturbance: brackish/salt marshes

Action Link
Marsh and Swamp Conservation
  1. Cut/mow herbaceous plants to maintain or restore disturbance: brackish/salt marshes

    A replicated, randomized, controlled, before-and-after study in 2003–2007 in two brackish wet grasslands in Estonia (Berg et al. 2012) found that annual cutting altered the overall plant community composition, but typically had no significant effect on plant species richness or diversity. Over four years of cutting, the plant community composition in cut plots became less similar to that in uncut plots – especially in the wetter of the two grasslands (data reported as a graphical analysis). Cover of 5–6 individual plant species – including common reed Phragmites australis – significantly differed between cut and uncut plots in at least one grassland and at least some measured years (see original paper for data). In most comparisons, cut and uncut plots had statistically similar plant species richness (six of eight comparisons, for which cut: 9–19 species/4 m2; uncut: 8–17 species/4 m2; other two comparisons lower in cut than uncut plots) and diversity (16 of 16 comparisons; data reported as diversity indices). Before cutting and within each grassland, plots destined for each treatment had statistically similar plant communities, richness and diversity (see original paper for data). Methods: In August 2003, sixteen 2 x 2 m plots were established in two degraded wet grasslands. The vegetation was historically grazed, but had not been for the past 40 years. Each summer, eight random plots/grassland were cut (with shears, cuttings removed). The other plots were not cut. All plots were fenced to exclude wild boar. Plant species and their cover were recorded annually (before each cut), from 2003 to 2007.

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

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