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  • P-ISSN2765-2203
  • E-ISSN2765-2211

An Adaptive Local Management Approach Cannot Overcome Large-Scale Trends: A Long-Term Case-Study for Saxifraga hirculus Conservation

Proceedings of the National Institute of Ecology of the Republic of Korea, (P)2765-2203; (E)2765-2211
2022, v.3 no.3, pp.139-148
https://doi.org/10.22920/PNIE.2022.3.3.139
Rob H. Marrs (School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool)
John O'Reilly (Ptyxis Ecology, Lambley)
Rob J. Rose (UKEH Lancaster, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology)
HyoHyeMi Lee (National Institute of Ecology, Seocheon)
Josu G. Alday (Department of Crop and Forest Sciences, University of Lleida)

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Abstract

Saxifraga hirculus is classified as a vulnerable plant species in Europe, and it is confined to base-rich flushes in the British uplands. However, a lack of available information about its conservation status hampers the development of adaptive strategies for its in-situ conservation, especially with respect to grazing. To assess the effectiveness of sheep grazing in maintaining viable populations of S. hirculus, we compared the community dynamics of the vegetation in a base-rich flush over 44 years in two plots: one sheep-grazed under business-as-usual sheep grazing densities and the other fenced to exclude grazing. The plots were established in 1972, and the abundances of all vascular plants, bryophytes, and litter were measured at six intervals until 2016. Our results showed that although the presence of S. hirculus was maintained in both plots over the 44 years, it declined and reached a minimum between 1995 and 2010, when it was close to extinction. Since 2013, Saxifraga has recovered only slightly. Interestingly, the S. hirculus response appeared to be independent of grazing treatment, but it mirrored wider changes in the vegetation composition and structure within the flush over the 44 years. These changes are similar to others reported in broader uplands that have been attributed to a combination of reduced nitrogen and sulfur deposition and global warming. Thus, the simple adaptive management approach of “just managing” sheep grazing appeared ineffectual for preserving the S. hirculus population. S. hirculus showed signs of recovery at the end of the study period within this base-rich flush.

keywords
Base-rich flush British uplands Conservation Generalized additive mixed models Multivariate analysis Rare species
Submission Date
2022-03-15
Revised Date
2022-03-30
Accepted Date
2022-03-30

Proceedings of the National Institute of Ecology of the Republic of Korea