Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Improved knowledge of breed and stocking rate effects on botanical diversity and structural heterogeneity in biodiverse grasslands

This result provides new information regarding the effects of breed and stocking rate on botanical diversity and structural heterogeneity in biodiverse grasslands. The key innovative features are the breed comparison and the high level of structural detail recorded. The main conclusion is that while total numbers of plant species in the grassland sites change little in the 3 years of the experiment, there was a loss of legume abundance as a result of selective grazing and, particularly on sites that were already grass-dominant an increase in grasses and particularly competitive grass species. At these sites there was also some evidence of an increase in patch size, particularly at low stocking rates but this was seen less at more herb-rich sites. There was little effect of breed except at the heather-gorse dominant site in Spain where local goats were better able to reduce cover of shrubs than cashmere goats. The result is about to publish in a peer refereed paper. It will enable farmers and conservation managers to make informed decisions about management of biodiverse grasslands and policy makers to better target the design of agri-environment schemes. The main benefit will be to increase the predictability of outcomes and hence improved targeting of management and subsidy schemes.

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Sonia VENERUS, (Research Scientist)
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