The Impacts of Contrasting Grazing Management on Biodiversity in Upland Calcerous Grasslands

Ashley Lyons, Anne Oxbrough, Ian Powell, Paul Ashton

Calcareous grassland is one of the most species rich and diverse habitats in Europe. However, following post 1950s agricultural intensification they have faced decline and degradation, with losses of up to 75% in some places. Today there are an estimated 595000 ha of calcareous grassland in the Natura 2000 network, with 35500 ha occurring in Great Britain.

In recent years conservation organisations have altered grazing practices in an attempt to conserve the characteristic vegetation of these internationally important habitats. However, there has been little consideration of the effects of these contrasting grazing practices on invertebrate communities or their relationship with plants.

This project examined the impacts of contrasting grazing practices on spiders, carabid beetles and plants in upland calcareous grasslands. Many of the results of this project provided the first evidence of effects of contrasting grazing management in upland calcareous grassland. This evidence will form the basis of the first management recommendations for upland calcareous grasslands to include invertebrates, and not plants, as the main focus. The project was funded by Edge Hill University and conducted by researchers at the same institution between 2013 and 2017.

The initial project idea was developed following discussion with Natural England site managers who highlighted a knowledge gap on the impacts of commonly used management practices. Throughout the project a series of meetings were held between the authors and practitioners from a range of organisations involved in upland calcareous grassland management (including: Natural England, The National Trust, The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority) to ensure research was as relevant and as reflective to practice as possible. This resulted in the following management document:

‘Managing Biodiversity in upland calcareous grassland landscapes: A case study of spiders and ground beetles’

Download the management document here: Lyons A., Oxbrough A. and Ashton P.* (2018) Managing biodiversity in upland calcareous grassland landscapes: a case study of spiders and ground beetles. Edge  Hill University, Lancashire, UK. Pages 1-32. ISBN: 978-1-900230-62-9’. [PDF]


Publications

Journal articles

Lyons, A., Ashton, P., Powell, I., Oxbrough, A., 2018. Epigeal spider assemblage responses to vegetation structure under contrasting grazing management in upland calcareous grasslands. Insect Conservation and Diversity. DOI: 10.1111/icad.12287

Lyons A., Ashton P.A., Powell I., Oxbrough A. (2018) Habitat associations of epigeal spiders in upland calcareous grassland landscapes: the importance for conservation. Biodiversity in Conservation, 27:1201-1219.

 Lyons, A., Ashton, P., Powell, I., Oxbrough, A., 2017. Impacts of contrasting conservation grazing management on plants and carabid beetles in upland calcareous grasslands. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment. 244: 22-31.

Invited speaker talks

Lyons A., Powell I., Ashton P., Oxbrough A. (2017) “Impacts of Contrasting Grazing Management on Biodiversity in Upland Calcareous Grasslands” Agroecology seminar series, Georg-August University Göttingen, Germany.

Conference Talks

Lyons, A, Powell I, Ashton P and Oxbrough A (2016) “Spider community responses to contrasting grazing management in upland calcareous grasslands” British Ecological Society, Liverpool, United Kingdom, ACC.

Lyons, A, Powell I, Ashton P and Oxbrough A (2016) “Can Plants be used as Indicators of the Impacts of Livestock Grazing on Carabid Beetles in Upland Calcareous Grassland?” 4th International Symposium of Carabidology, Athens, Georgia, USA, Finchums Phoenix.

Lyons, A, Powell I, Ashton P and Oxbrough A (2016) “Spider community responses to contrasting grazing management in upland calcareous grasslands” International Congress of Entomology, Orlando, Florida, USA, Orange County Convention Centrex.

Lyons, A, Powell I, Ashton P and Oxbrough A (2015) “Can Plants be used as Indicators of the Impacts of Livestock Grazing on Carabid Beetles in Upland Calcareous Grassland?” International Congress of Conservation Biology, Montpellier, France, Le Corum.

Lyons, A, Powell I, Ashton P and Oxbrough A (2014) “Impact of Contrasting Grazing Management on Upland Limestone Grassland” Conservation and Research Management, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, Lancashire.

Lyons, A, Powell I, Oxbrough, A and Ashton P (2013) “Impact of Grazing on Upland Limestone Vegetation”, International Congrex of Ecology, London, Excel Centre.

Lyons, A, Powell, I, Oxbrough, A and Ashton, P (2013) “North Yorkshire Upland Limestones: The Impact of Livestock Grazing on Vegetation”, Malham Tarn Research Seminar, Malham Tarn, North Yorkshire, Malham Tarn FCS.

Poster Presentations

Lyons, A, Powell I, Ashton P and Oxbrough A (2015) “Can Plants be used as Indicators of the Impacts of Livestock Grazing on Carabid Beetles in Upland Calcareous Grassland?” International Congress of Conservation Biology, Montpellier, France, Le Corum.

Lyons, A, Ashton, P, Powell, I and Oxbrough, A (2014) “The Impact of Livestock Grazing on Carabid Beetles in Upland Limestone Areas” European Congress of Entomology, York, Great Britain.

Lyons, A, Powell, I, Oxbrough, A and Ashton, P (2012) “Impact of Contrasting Management on Upland Limestone Vegetation” Poster Presented at the British Ecological Society Annual Conference, Birmingham, UK.