Recent rise to dominance of Molinia caerulea in environmentally sensitive areas: new perspectives from palaeoecological data

Recent rise to dominance of Molinia caerulea in environmentally sensitive areas: new perspectives... Summary 1. A characteristic of some heath and moorland areas in maritime north‐west Europe is the widespread dominance of Molinia caerulea (purple moor grass). The overwhelming local supremacy of this species concerns farmers, owing to its relatively low palatability for grazing stock, and conservationists, owing to the monotonous, species‐poor landscapes that often result under Molinietum. 2. In some environmentally sensitive areas (ESAs) in England and Wales, Molinietum is believed to have ousted Callunetum in recent decades; experiments sponsored to control the species have predicated its infiltration and replacement of heather‐dominated stands. 3. Experimental control of Molinia in ESAs on Exmoor, England, was paralleled by palaeoecological studies to verify its recent rise, assess its status in moorland, and test the utility of the techniques for such research. 4. Peat profiles from two localities on Exmoor were sampled and subjected to recently developed techniques of plant macrofossil counting and to conventional pollen analysis. One locality was ‘white moor’, clearly dominated by Molinia; the other was ‘grey moor’ (an admixture of ericaceous shrubs) that had become invaded (allegedly recently) by Molinia. 5. Dating of profiles employed a range of methods, including conventional radiocarbon dating, Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) dating and the counting of spheroidal carbonaceous particles, to attempt to delimit horizons of recent peat growth. 6. The pollen and macrofossil data confirmed the recent ousting of Calluna and rise to dominance of Molinia in the grey moor, but also provided evidence of an earlier unsuspected (pre‐Callunetum) presence of Molinia. The overwhelming dominance of Molinia in the white moor was also a recent phenomenon, but was only partly at the expense of Calluna. The palaeoecological data indicated a greater antiquity and former abundance of Molinia than is often appreciated and suggested that, over the past millennium, vegetation dominance has alternated between Callunetum and grass moor containing at least some Molinia, while the former Calluna‐dominated grey moor itself developed originally from grass moor. 7. These findings have implications for conservation management and for restoration targets in ‘degraded’ moorland. Similar palaeoecological studies have since been adopted in Wales, directly to inform conservation and management policy. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Applied Ecology Wiley

Recent rise to dominance of Molinia caerulea in environmentally sensitive areas: new perspectives from palaeoecological data

Loading next page...
 
/lp/wiley/recent-rise-to-dominance-of-molinia-caerulea-in-environmentally-EaMeoZtaG4
Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 1999 Wiley Subscription Services, Inc., A Wiley Company
ISSN
0021-8901
eISSN
1365-2664
D.O.I.
10.1046/j.1365-2664.1999.00435.x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Summary 1. A characteristic of some heath and moorland areas in maritime north‐west Europe is the widespread dominance of Molinia caerulea (purple moor grass). The overwhelming local supremacy of this species concerns farmers, owing to its relatively low palatability for grazing stock, and conservationists, owing to the monotonous, species‐poor landscapes that often result under Molinietum. 2. In some environmentally sensitive areas (ESAs) in England and Wales, Molinietum is believed to have ousted Callunetum in recent decades; experiments sponsored to control the species have predicated its infiltration and replacement of heather‐dominated stands. 3. Experimental control of Molinia in ESAs on Exmoor, England, was paralleled by palaeoecological studies to verify its recent rise, assess its status in moorland, and test the utility of the techniques for such research. 4. Peat profiles from two localities on Exmoor were sampled and subjected to recently developed techniques of plant macrofossil counting and to conventional pollen analysis. One locality was ‘white moor’, clearly dominated by Molinia; the other was ‘grey moor’ (an admixture of ericaceous shrubs) that had become invaded (allegedly recently) by Molinia. 5. Dating of profiles employed a range of methods, including conventional radiocarbon dating, Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) dating and the counting of spheroidal carbonaceous particles, to attempt to delimit horizons of recent peat growth. 6. The pollen and macrofossil data confirmed the recent ousting of Calluna and rise to dominance of Molinia in the grey moor, but also provided evidence of an earlier unsuspected (pre‐Callunetum) presence of Molinia. The overwhelming dominance of Molinia in the white moor was also a recent phenomenon, but was only partly at the expense of Calluna. The palaeoecological data indicated a greater antiquity and former abundance of Molinia than is often appreciated and suggested that, over the past millennium, vegetation dominance has alternated between Callunetum and grass moor containing at least some Molinia, while the former Calluna‐dominated grey moor itself developed originally from grass moor. 7. These findings have implications for conservation management and for restoration targets in ‘degraded’ moorland. Similar palaeoecological studies have since been adopted in Wales, directly to inform conservation and management policy.

Journal

Journal of Applied EcologyWiley

Published: Oct 1, 1999

References

  • The extent and condition of heather on moorland in the uplands of England and Wales.
    Bardgett, Bardgett; Marsden, Marsden; Howard, Howard
  • Experimental manipulation of succession in heathland ecosystems.
    Berendse, Berendse; Schmitz, Schmitz; De Visser, De Visser
  • A replicated 3000 yr proxy‐climate record from Coom Rigg Moss and Felecia Moss, the Border Mires, northern England.
    Mauquoy, Mauquoy; Barber, Barber
  • Deposition of fixed atmospheric nitrogen and foliar nitrogen content of bryophytes and Calluna vulgaris (L.) Hull.
    Pitcairn, Pitcairn; Fowler, Fowler; Grace, Grace
  • Upland heather moorland in Great Britain: a review of international importance, vegetation changes and some objectives for nature conservation.
    Thompson, Thompson; MacDonald, MacDonald; Marsden, Marsden; Galbraith, Galbraith

You’re reading a free preview. Subscribe to read the entire article.


DeepDyve is your
personal research library

It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.

Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.

All for just $49/month

Explore the DeepDyve Library

Search

Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly

Organize

Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.

Access

Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.

Your journals are on DeepDyve

Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.

All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.

See the journals in your area

DeepDyve

Freelancer

DeepDyve

Pro

Price

FREE

$49/month
$360/year

Save searches from
Google Scholar,
PubMed

Create folders to
organize your research

Export folders, citations

Read DeepDyve articles

Abstract access only

Unlimited access to over
18 million full-text articles

Print

20 pages / month

PDF Discount

20% off