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HeathMod: a model of the impact of seasonal grazing by sheep on upland heaths dominated by Calluna vulgaris (heather)

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>06/2002
<mark>Journal</mark>Biological Conservation
Issue number3
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)279-292
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date21/02/02
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The dwarf shrub heather Calluna vulgaris is an important component of the UK landscape, with value for amenity, nature conservation and animal production. A model, called "HeathMod", is described, which investigates the impact of grazing on upland heather. It combines an empirical model of production with a simple process-based model of grazing impacts. Validation from short-term studies in the literature indicated that the model predicts grazing impacts well, although more studies of grazing impacts are required to confirm the model's accuracy. Analysis of the model allowed derivation of a simple general formula for predicting sustainable levels of grazing, given knowledge of local site productivity. Predicted levels of sustainable grazing were lower than previous estimates, mainly because the model predicts the long-term impacts of sustained grazing. Application of the model is most appropriate in areas where heather is in mixed-age stands, because there is inadequate information available to model interactions between grazing and degeneration in even-aged stands of heather. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.