Service Communautaire d'Information sur la Recherche et le Développement - CORDIS

Critical review of management of grazed grasslands for biodiversity benefit

The three-refereed scientific papers produced under this result provide critical reviews of the literature on issues affecting the management of grazed grasslands for biodiversity benefit. In particular we have examined the role of grazing animal type (particularly exploitable differences in grazing behaviour), and intensity of grazing on biodiversity outcomes in terms of structure, botanical composition, and invertebrate communities. We set these findings in the context of the agricultural production these systems can sustain and the impact of the systems on economic sustainability. We conclude that the main mechanism by which grazing livestock affect biodiversity is by the creation of sward heterogeneity, that there are important differences between animal species in their impact on grazed communities but only minor differences between breeds within species. In both cases the differences are related to body size. We conclude that the genetic basis of these effects and any possible confounding with rearing environment needs further research. The reviews are publicly available and have been drawn directly to the attention of a large number of organisations with potential interest in the results, including ecological research organisations, public and private extension services, policy makers and organisations representing farmers and conservation managers including public landowners. The reviews provide a valuable resource for these organisations in assisting in the formulation of policy, management decisions and research contexting. The publishers websites are linked from the project website allowing easy access. The website and the publications give contact details of the partners. The key innovative feature of this result is the drawing together of research in behavioural ecology with that in community ecology to inform the management of grazed grasslands.

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Reported by

Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research
North Wyke
EX20 1SU Okehampton
United Kingdom