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Association between lowland grassland plant communities and soil properties

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Nigel Critchley, Dr Roy Sanderson


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Soil properties should be taken into account when managing and restoring semi-natural grasslands. Topsoils sampled at 462 sites in temperate lowland grasslands in England, UK, were analysed for pH, extractable phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and magnesium (Mg), total nitrogen (N), organic matter (OM), and estimated available water capacity. Soil-plant community relationships were determined using Canonical Correspondence Analysis. Mesotrophic semi-improved grasslands had soil nutrient levels closer to semi-natural communities than to agriculturally improved grasslands, and will be suitable targets for restoration. Unimproved mesotrophic sub-communities were distributed along a pH gradient and will be sensitive to soil pH changes. Wet grasslands were differentiated at the community level; the most species-rich had low extractable P and K levels and will require high levels of soil wetness. Calcareous grasslands were less well differentiated from one another but had lowest ecological amplitudes. Soil summary data for communities are presented to assist site managers and policy makers. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sanderson RA; Critchley CNR; Chambers BJ; Fowbert JA; Bhogal A; Rose SC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Biological Conservation

Year: 2002

Volume: 105

Issue: 2

Pages: 199-215

ISSN (print): 0006-3207

ISSN (electronic): 1873-2917

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/S0006-3207(01)00183-5


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