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A to Z of Ecology G is for grassland | Matt Levan | Levan Ecology

A to Z of Ecology G is for grassland

26 October 2015

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 October 26, 2015
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This is the first of these posts to deal with a habitat. Grassland can seem rather dull and it is tempting to think that a site that is covered in grass has little ecological interest but this is not necessarily true.

Grassland can be divided into ‘improved’ areas created with fast growing seeds, fertilizer and pesticides and unimproved grassland, which typically has a much higher diversity of plants and supports more animals.

According to the charity Plantlife  the vast majority of this more diverse grassland has already been lost and areas continue to be threatened.

Unimproved grassland often supports plants specific to the soil type like those for limestone or acid areas and with the loss of the grassland these plants may go extinct in an area with knock on effects on the animals such as butterflies and bees that feed on them.

An example would be the Large Blue butterfly, the rarest in the UK, which actually went extinct in Britain and was reintroduced. This butterfly is only found where wild thyme grows and there are red ants  . These conditions need chalk or limestone grassland without fertilizers and with regular grazing.

Many species rich grass areas are protected but not all and identifying them requires a survey at the right time of year to see the characteristic wildflowers, typically spring time. If an area could be species rich grassland this might mean that a site visit at the wrong time of year is not enough.

Levan Ecology can identify if your site has the potential to be species rich grassland and arrange for a botanical survey at the right time of year to make sure you don’t run into any unexpected problems.

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