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Long-term changes of salt marsh communities by cattle grazing
Andresen, H.; Bakker, J.P.; Brongers, M.; Heydemann, B.; Irmler, U. (1990). Long-term changes of salt marsh communities by cattle grazing. Vegetatio 89(2): 137-148. hdl.handle.net/10.1007/BF00032166
In: Vegetatio. Dr. W. Junk B.V. Publishers/Junk b.v.: The Hague. ISSN 0042-3106, more

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Keywords
    Invertebrates; Succession (ecological); Vegetation; Brackish water
Author keywords
    Grazing intensity; Nature management

Authors  Top 
  • Andresen, H.
  • Bakker, J.P.
  • Brongers, M.
  • Heydemann, B.
  • Irmler, U.

Abstract
    Over a period of 9 years a grazing experiment was carried out in the mainland salt marsh of the Leybucht (Niedersachsen) with three stocking rates, namely, 0.5 ha-1, 1 ha-1, and 2 cattle ha-1. These were also compared with an abandoned area. The results are based on sampling of the invertebrates in 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1988, and of the vegetation in 1980 and 1988. The rate of sedimentation is highest in the Puccinellia maritima-zone and decreases with the increase of stocking rates. The Elymus pycnanthus vegetation type becomes dominant in the higher salt marsh in the abandoned site. The canopy height decreases with increasing stocking rate, whereas a gradient in the structure of the vegetation develops with the lowest stocking rate. The population densities, the species-richness and the community diversity of invertebrates increases after the cessation of grazing. The high rate of sedimentation in the abandoned site promotes the immigration of species from higher salt marsh levels and adjacent grasslands, and eventually halotopophilous species and communities may disappear. On the other hand grazing reduces numerous species living both in or on upper parts of the vegetation or being sensitive to trampling by cattle. The community structure shows that the salt marsh ecosystem changed from a food web dominated by plant feeding animals to a food web dominated by animals foraging on detritus. The salt marsh management has to be differentiated into both ungrazed and lightly grazed areas (each 50%) or an overall grazing in large areas with less than 0.5 cattle ha-1.

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