Effects of grazing management on beetle and plant assemblages during the re-creation of a flood-plain meadow

Woodcock, B. A.; Lawson, C. S.; Mann, D. J. and McDonald, A. W. (2006). Effects of grazing management on beetle and plant assemblages during the re-creation of a flood-plain meadow. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 116(3-4) pp. 225–234.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2006.02.011


Flood-plain meadows (Alopecurus-Sanguisorba grassland) are a floristically rich community of conservation importance throughout Europe. Declines in their distribution due in part to modern farming practices mean they now cover less than 1500 ha in the UK. To investigate the effect of grazing regime during the re-creation of this grassland type, target plant species were sown onto ex-arable land during 1985. Traditional management, based on a July hay cut followed by aftermath grazing was subsequently instigated, and the site was divided into replicated grazing regimes of cattle, sheep and an un-grazed control. Plant and beetle assemblages were sampled and compared to those of target flood-plain meadows and improved grassland communities.Within the re-creation treatments the absence of aftermath grazing reduced beetle abundances and species richness. Assemblages of plants were closest to that of the target flood-plain meadow under sheep grazing, although this differed little from cattle grazing. Beetle species assemblages and functional group structure were, however, closest to the target grassland under cattle grazing. For all taxa the greatest resilience to succession to the target flood-plain meadow occurred when grazing was not part of the management prescription. Although successful re-creation had not been achieved for either the plants or beetles, cutting followed by aftermath cattle grazing has provided the best management to date.

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