The natural exclusion of red deer from large boulder grazing refugia and the consequences for saxicolous bryophyte and lichen ecology

Moore, Oliver and Crawley, Michael J (2014) The natural exclusion of red deer from large boulder grazing refugia and the consequences for saxicolous bryophyte and lichen ecology. Biodiversity and Conservation, 23 (9). pp. 2305-2319. ISSN 0960-3115

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Abstract

Large boulder grazing refugia permitted comparison of saxicolous bryophyte and lichen assemblages with those boulder tops accessible to red deer (Cervus elaphus) on a sporting estate in northwest Scotland. Plant succession was predicted to occur unchecked by grazing on the tops of these large boulders with cascading effects on bryophytes and lichens—assuming boulders had been in place over the same time period. Fifty pairs of boulders (one ≥2 m and the other accessible to red deer) were selected at random from various locations below north-facing crags. Percentage cover of each bryophyte and lichen species was estimated from three randomly placed quadrats on each boulder top. Due consideration was given to the influence of island biogeography theory in subsequent model simplification. Mean shrub cover and height, leaf-litter, bryophyte cover and bryophyte species richness were significantly higher within quadrats on large boulder tops that naturally excluded red deer. Lichen cover and lichen species richness were significantly higher on boulder tops accessible to red deer. Lichen cover was in a significant negative relationship with bryophyte cover, shrub cover and litter cover. Bryophyte cover showed a significant positive relationship with shrub height but there was an optimum shrub cover. Natural exclusion of red deer from the tops of large boulders has facilitated plant succession. The results suggest that grazing arrests the lithosere on boulder tops accessible to red deer at an early plagioclimax favouring saxicolous lichens. The results are relevant to situations where red deer might be excluded from boulder fields that hold lichen assemblages of conservation value.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Cervus elaphus Conservation Lichens Species richness Succession
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QK Botany
Q Science > QL Zoology
Q Science > QL Zoology > QL605 Chordates. Vertebrates
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Natural & Social Sciences > Environmental Sciences
Research Priority Areas: Environmental Dynamics & Governance
Depositing User: Oliver Moore
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2017 17:14
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2017 17:33
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/4336

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