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Gwynedd, United Kingdom

Howe M.A.,Countryside Council for Wales | Knight G.T.,World Museum | Clee C.,World Museum
Journal of Coastal Conservation | Year: 2010

Although most UK sand dune systems are now fossilized, with little mobility and reducing amounts of bare sand, they support important populations and assemblages of terrestrial invertebrates. Offering open conditions, warm substrates and a range of habitats and habitat structures, they have become increasingly significant as other coastal habitats have been lost. In Wales, 680 Red Data Book and Nationally Scarce species have been recorded from dunes. 109 species in the UK are restricted to dunes, and in Wales there are an additional 145 species confined to dunes and 208 species strongly associated with dunes. Of these, 172 species are dependent upon bare and sparsely-vegetated sand, in grey dunes and early-successional dune grassland, at some stage of their life cycle, rising to 292 species if those associated with the strandline, foredunes, yellow dunes and pioneer dune slacks are included, equating to 63% of the 462 dune species. Bees and wasps are particularly well represented, with 278 species (68% of the Welsh fauna) recorded on Welsh dunes, including 17 obligates and 44 species with a strong dependence, 52 of which are associated with bare and sparsely-vegetated sand. Key to maintaining invertebrate populations on UK dunes is the provision of bare sand but in Wales, bare sand accounts for only 1.7% of the total sand dune resource. As a more appropriate bare sand threshold is likely to range between 10 and 30%, radical action is required to re-mobilize at least the key sand dune systems. © 2009 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. Source

Chambers F.M.,University of Gloucestershire | Cloutman E.W.,University of Gloucestershire | Daniell J.R.G.,University of Gloucestershire | Mauquoy D.,University of Aberdeen | Jones P.S.,Countryside Council for Wales
Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2013

For ecosystems perceived as degraded, but for which the causal factors or timescales for the degradation are disputed or not known, long-term (palaeo-)ecological records may aid understanding and lead to more meaningful conservation approaches. To help 'bridge the gap' between (very) long-term ecology and contemporary ecology for practical application, there have been calls for working relationships to be established between palaeoecologists and conservation ecologists. One environment in which this has been attempted is blanket mire. Many blanket mires in Europe are degraded and contain few sphagna. In South Wales, almost all exhibit symptoms of degradation, with dominance by purple moor grass (Molinia caerulea) widespread. We used palaeoecological techniques on three peat profiles in the Brecon Beacons to investigate vegetation history of high-altitude blanket mire to help assess the relative contribution of various factors in mire degradation and to inform strategies for mire conservation and restoration management. We found that declines in sphagna preceded the rise to dominance of monocotyledons. Macrofossil records showed that although Molinia was already present on the Beacons before the start of the industrial revolution, its major rise to dominance in one profile was within the 20th Century, coincident with evidence for local fire. In another profile, it was out-competed by Eriophorum vaginatum after the start of the industrial revolution; there is circumstantial evidence to suggest that a reduction in burning contributed to the rise in E. vaginatum. Conservation management to reduce the current local dominance of both Eriophorum and Molinia is supported by the palaeoecological data, but severe erosion and hagging of peat will constrain practical methods for achieving this on the Beacons until the peat is stabilised. We suggest that palaeoecological techniques have wider applicability in conservation. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Source

Jones L.,UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology | Nizam M.S.,UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology | Nizam M.S.,National University of Malaysia | Reynolds B.,UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology | And 2 more authors.
Environmental Pollution | Year: 2013

This study investigated potential ammonia impacts on a sand dune nature reserve 600 m upwind of an intensive poultry unit. Ammonia concentrations and total nitrogen deposition were measured over a calendar year. A series of ammonia and nitrogen exposure experiments using dune grassland species were conducted in controlled manipulations and in the field. Ammonia emissions from the intensive poultry unit were detected up to 2.8 km upwind, contributing to exceedance of critical levels of ammonia 800 m upwind and exceedance of critical loads of nitrogen 2.8 km upwind. Emissions contributed 30% of the total N load in parts of the upwind conservation site. In the nitrogen exposure experiments, plants showed elevated tissue nitrogen contents, and responded to ammonia concentrations and nitrogen deposition loads observed in the conservation site by increasing biomass. Estimated long-term impacts suggest an increase in the soil carbon pool of 9% over a 50-year timescale. © 2013 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Source

Mcgovern S.,Bangor University | Mcgovern S.,Aberystwyth University | Evans C.D.,UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology | Dennis P.,Aberystwyth University | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Vegetation Science | Year: 2011

Question: Few long-term studies exist with integrated vegetation and soil composition data, coupled with detailed environmental driver records. Can changes in community composition in an upland grassland be identified by revisitation after a 40-year period and allow the main environmental drivers of change to be identified? Location: Snowdon, Wales, UK. Methods: Changes in plant community and soil composition were assessed by resurveying an upland Agrostis-Festuca grassland in 2008, 40 years after the original survey. PCA and ecological indicators were used to determine changes in plant community composition. Redundancy analysis (RDA) allowed the impact of soil chemical composition on the vegetation community to be assessed. Results: A significant shift in community composition was found between years. A 35% reduction in species richness and an increase in the grass:forb ratio, suggest significant ecosystem degradation. Indicator values suggest acidification of the community with an increased acidity preference of species recorded in 2008. However, soil pH measurements showed that soil pH had increased. RDA suggested that the main shifts in species composition were correlated with an increase in pH and a reduction in soil exchangeable base cation concentration. Clear ecosystem responses to climate, land-use change or nitrogen enrichment were not observed. Conclusions: Shifts in vegetation and soil composition are clearly identifiable after 40 years. The shifts in community composition are consistent with ecosystem degradation due to acidification during the period between surveys. Ecological indicator values and soil chemical composition displayed differing degrees of change. Whilst soils appear to be recovering from historic effects of sulphur deposition, vegetation community composition changes appear to lag behind those in soil chemistry. © 2011 International Association for Vegetation Science. Source

Mainstone C.P.,Natural England | Thomas R.,Countryside Council for Wales | Bean C.W.,Scottish Natural Heritage | Waterman T.,UK Environment Agency
Fisheries Management and Ecology | Year: 2012

Abstract An outline is given of the scale and nature of special wildlife designations in the UK river network, the general approach of the UK conservation agencies to their evaluation and management, and the specific way in which impacts of river flows are handled. The need for a holistic ecological and biodiversity view of water resource impacts on river systems is stressed, within which the specific needs of individual species, such as Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., can be framed. An approach founded on the provision of a natural flow regime within a natural physical channel not only provides the most suitable conditions for characteristic riverine wildlife to flourish but also provides the best local defence against global climate change. Arguments are made for a future focus on the generic evidence base for flow targets and its strengthening through strategic and demonstrably fit-for-purpose research. The practical constraints to an approach based on protection of the natural flow regime are discussed. Ultimately, transparent separation and consideration of what river ecosystems really need, and what can realistically be provided, is the key to shared ownership of the water resource dilemma. © 2011 Crown copyright. Source

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