The effects of sheep grazing on seedling establishment and survival in grassland

  • Published source details Watt T.A. & Gibson C.W.D. (1988) The effects of sheep grazing on seedling establishment and survival in grassland. VegetatioDELETE, 78, 91-98.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

    A replicated, controlled study in 1986 and 1987 of an abandoned arable field in Oxfordshire, England, UK (Watt & Gibson 1988) found that sheep grazing increased seedling establishment compared to ungrazed plots. The most heavily grazed treatment had the highest levels of seedling establishment, whereas few new seedlings were recorded on ungrazed paddocks. Treatments with some autumn grazing had a peak of seedling establishment the following spring. Seedling survival was not affected by grazing treatment or gap size. The two short-grazing treatments (lasting 10 days) had the least bare ground whilst April-November grazed areas had the most. Insecticide use increased seedling establishment in October in ungrazed and spring-grazed paddocks but decreased establishment in autumn-grazed paddocks. In 1985, three treatments were applied in six replicate (30 x 30 m) paddocks: 10 days grazing in spring or autumn, and ungrazed controls. Two 3 x 3 m permanent quadrats were treated weekly with malathion insecticide in each paddock and four permanent 1 x 1 m sampling quadrats were established. Another two paddocks were grazed from April-November with or without a short break in summer, twelve 1 x 1 m quadrats were established in each. Gap type and seedling sampling was undertaken in all quadrats seven times from April 1986 to July 1987. Vegetation height was recorded in September 1986. This study was part of the same experimental set-up as (Gibson et al. 1987a, Gibson et al. 1987b, Brown & Gibson 1994).


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