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Kooijman, A.M., de Haan, M.W.A.: Grazing as a measure against grass encroachment in Dutch dry dune grassland: effects on vegetation and soil. Journal of Coastal Conservation, 1: 127-134, 1995.


Abstract. A grazing experiment was started in 1984 and 1989 respectively, in two parts of a dune grassland in the nature reserve ‘Zwanenwater’, North Holland; a third part with similar geology and topography was used as a control area and not grazed. An evaluation of the effects of grazing on vegetation patterns, species composition, vegetation structure and humus form was made with the help of vegetation maps from 1986  and 1992 as well as field surveys. Dense tall-grass communities dominated by Ammophila arenaria increased over the period 1986-1992 in the grazedareas, and especially in the non-grazed area (increase in area to 20 %, 22 % and 50 %, respectively). Open communities decreased in the grazed areas, but are still prevalent, while in the ungrazed area they virtually disappeared, with the result that the present percentage areas are 53 %, 38 % and 17 %. Field survey data were classified by TWINSPAN producing four vegetation types. These occur more or less equally in grazed and ungrazed areas, albeit with different percentage areas: (1) open vegetation dominated by Corynephorus canescens; (2) open vegetation characterized by Koeleria macrantha; (3) heathland dominated by Empetrum nigrum; and (4) tall-grass communities dominated by Ammophila arenaria. Within a vegetation type, species composition was only marginally affected by grazing regime. Within the open communities the number of species, vegetation height, vegetation cover and soil organic horizons were not affected by grazing. In the tall-grass communities the number of species was significantly larger and the height of the vegetation significantly lower in the area grazed since 1984. In the heathland community the number of species and cover of the moss layer were significantly higher in the 1984 area and ectorganic and endorganic horizons significantly thicker in the ungrazed area. It is suggested that these effects are the result of an increased availability of light, but possibly also of a decreased stock of organic matter and nutrients, due to a decreased input of litter and accelerated rates of decomposition.

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