Palaeoecology of degraded blanket mire in South Wales: Data to inform conservation management

Frank M. Chambers, Dmitri Mauquoy, Andy Gent, Freya Pearson, John R. G. Daniell, Peter S. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Many European blanket mires are degraded and contain few Sphagna. In Wales, more than half exhibit symptoms of degradation. We used palaeoecological techniques to chronicle recent vegetation history at two upland localities in South Wales to provide an understanding of the contribution of various factors in mire degradation and to aid wider conservation management strategies. The data suggest a major vegetation change post-dated the start of the industrial revolution. There was evidence for increased burning activity, but as this phenomenon was not present in all profiles it seems unlikely that fire was the principal or sole agent in vegetation change. Rather, increased atmospheric input, plus a change in grazing pressure, may have been responsible. The implications for conservation management are far-reaching. The present overwhelming dominance of Molinia at Hirwaun Common is unprecedented. So also is a local dominance of Calluna, shown in one area at Mynydd Llangatwg. Hence, the approbation often accorded to Callunetum needs to be tempered with the knowledge that its presence in the Mynydd Llangatwg landscape is not longstanding. Indeed, millennial-scale dominance of Sphagnum imbricatum characterizes the earlier record. Its demise and that of Drosera intermedia took place in historical times. Both localities show floristic impoverishment within the 20th Century, with relatively recent single-taxon supremacy. So, conservation management to reduce the current pre-eminence of Molinia would not run counter to long-established dominance; ways to achieve this are suggested. The methods used in this study have wide applicability in mire conservation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-209
Number of pages13
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume137
Issue number2
Early online date27 Mar 2007
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2007

Keywords

  • blanket bog
  • habitat management
  • pollen analysis
  • pal aeo ecological techniques
  • plant macrofossil analysis
  • mire conservation
  • lake-sediments
  • vegetation history
  • charcoal analysis
  • molinia-caerulea
  • pollen diagrams
  • fire history
  • upland peats
  • pollutants
  • grassland
  • heathland

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