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Response of grassland plant communities to altered hydrological change - BD1321

The project aims to complete research begun under Project BD1310. It’s objectives are to measure the rate at which grassland communities change their composition following an alteration to hydrological management and to develop procedures for monitoring and for interpreting survey data.

The results will be relevant to those grassland sites within Environmentally Sensitive Areas and Countryside Stweardship Schemes which are subject to hydrological management. They will allow prescriptions to be written more precisely and allow effective post-project appraisal of scheme which alter a site’s hydrology. Project BD1310 did not deliver these objectives within its original time-frame due to a combiunation of three external factors:
• Restricted access to field sites, linked to Foot and Mouth Disease precautions,
• Unforseen delays in the implementation of planned hydrological changes by external agencies,
• Exceptional weather conditions during the period 1999-2001, the wettest since records began.

The proposed research will be conducted at three grassland sites, each of which have now undergone a change to their hydrological management. Each site has been instrumented with dipwells, had permanent botanical quadrats positioned, baseline data recorded and hydrological models developed under project BD1310. The proposed research will use this existing information and combine it with additional field data collected over three further field seasons to determine the response of the grassland communities.

The three contrasting sites would provide good case studies for RDS project officers to use as guidance for developing restoration schemes.
1. To validate the conceptual hydrological model that was developed for East Cottingwith Ings, N.Yorks, under project BD1310, using newly collected dipwell data.
2. To complete BD1310 objective 5, “To characterise the relationship between the rate of change in the composition of plant communities and the shift in water regime on hydrologically-altered sites.”
3. To describe the trajectories of change observed in the plant community composition at 3 case study sites to provide reference information for managers undertaking similar schemes.
4. To complete BD1310 objective 6, “To develop appropriate methods for interpreting data and designing monitoring strategies for grassland sites subject to hydrological manipulation, such as in wetland ESAs and other agri-environmental schemes involving water-level management.”
Project Documents
• Final Report : Response of grassland plant communities to altered hydrological change   (6978k)
• Final Report - Annex : Response of grassland plant communities to altered hydrological change   (478k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2002

To: 2005

Cost: £97,742
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Cranfield, University - Silsoe College
Environmental Protection              
Habitat conservation              
Nature conservation              
Fields of Study
Environmental Stewardship