Semi-natural chalk grassland is an internationally important habitat characterised by high species richness at a fine scale. In both the United Kingdom and other European Countries however, significant areas of chalk grassland have been lost to intensive agriculture practices. In the United Kingdom, conservation and expansion of existing chalk grassland sites has become a high priority. Research that leads to a better understanding of the processes that structure chalk grassland communities may aid these objectives.
A number of field trials have been conducted to examine the role of grazing in structuring grassland plant communities, but the role of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF)/plant symbiosis has received less attention. In this research project the structure (presence and abundance of species) of chalk grassland communities growing on the South Downs in the United Kingdom is defined. This is achieved by detailed analysis of extensive plant survey data collected in 1991. Analysis revealed strong patterns relating to species presence and abundance in the chalk grassland communities. In particular evidence of „nestedness‟ and a frequency abundance relationship was found. From these patterns it was deduced that AMF/ plant symbiosis may have a significant role in structuring chalk grassland communities.
|Date of Award||2011|