A comparative study of Corynephorus canescens (L.) P.Beauv. communities of inland sand dunes in England and Poland
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AuthorsBlunt, Arthur Godfrey
AdvisorsTrueman, Ian C.
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractInland sand dunes supporting Grey Hair-grass Corynephorus canescens are a declining European habitat designated for conservation under the EU’s Habitats Directive. In Britain they are confined to a handful of sites in East Anglia and the West Midlands. This study investigated the relationships of the British populations to each other and to populations on five sites in Poland, where C. canescens is still widespread. It also conducted exploratory investigations into factors relevant to the conservation of this ecosystem, particularly in the West Midlands. Data were collected chiefly from 1m2 quadrat samples and direct sampling, which recorded the plants and animals present together with parameters such as vigour and fecundity in C. canescens, amounts of bare sand and litter, and measures of erosion and grazing. These data were variously analysed including by CANOCO multivariate analysis and, for the vegetation, TWINSPAN analysis. 153 taxa of plants and 251 of invertebrates were identified. Though strongly distributed on a regional basis, both flora and invertebrate fauna showed relationships particularly between Polish and West Midlands sites. Analysis of the vegetation suggested that West Midlands vegetation had some associations with C. canescens habitats in Europe and that East Anglian vegetation had links with British coastal C. canescens habitats. The invertebrate fauna showed some complex community relationships in Poland and the West Midlands but less so in East Anglia, while assemblages of invertebrates were associated with various vegetational and abiotic factors. Rabbits and hares were the only vertebrates regularly exploiting C. canescens habitats, which they grazed and, in the former case, produced sand disturbances for colonisation by C. canescens. Ants and to a lesser degree some other invertebrates also produced sand disturbances. Observations made in a preliminary cultivation study in the West Midlands suggested that C. canescens may have a biennial phenology, high fecundity, low germination rates and limited dispersal powers in that region. A trampling investigation suggested that C. canescens may be very sensitive to heavy uncontrolled trampling and to vegetational succession under protection. Stages in succession of the C. canescens community were identified, and suggestions for further study and the conservation of C. canescens were drawn up.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionSubmitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy