Plagioclimax/Heather Moorlands

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  • Plagioclimax
    • stable plant community which has occurred as a result of human intervention in the natural succession of communities
    • intervention such as ...
      • Deforestation
      • Clearance by fire
      • Afforestation
      • Animal Grazing
    • Heather Moorlands
      • develops above 250m/higher altitude which means plants must endure high winds and lower temperatures. high amounts of run off (1250mm)=leeching
      • ecosystem of low productivity and low diversity
        • so why do we maintain it?
          • staple diet of the endangered Red Grouse. it is an economic asset as it is only found in the UK.
            • prices to recreationally shoot Red Grouse can be up to $150,000 a week
          • home to the endangered Dartford Warbler, sand reptiles and other insects
          • valuable evergreen forage plant and many sheep feed on this forage
      • how is it maintained?
        • primarily through burning, it is burnt every 15yrs
          • however this prevents a climatic climax from being reached. scots pine and birch woodland cannot establish
            • only reaches stage 4 of 6 if allowed to (Pioneer(-5y) - Building(-15y) - Mature(-25) - Degenerate(-30y) )
        • grazing, it can reactivate the growth of new shoots but over grazing can kill the heather
      • Scottish Highlands, Exmoor and the Yorkshire Moors
      • extent of heather and grouse have declined due to
        • Reclamation of low lying land
        • reforestation
        • overgrazing by sheep and deer
        • soil erosion


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