e-book The Sands of Time: An Introduction to the Sand Dunes of the Sefton Coast

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Published six times a year, British Wildlife bridges the gap between popular writing and scientific literature through a combination of long-form articles, regular columns and reports, book reviews and letters. Conservation Land Management CLM is a quarterly magazine that is widely regarded as essential reading for all who are involved in land management for nature conservation, across the British Isles. CLM includes long-form articles, events listings, publication reviews, new product information and updates, reports of conferences and letters.

Exceptional customer service Get specialist help and advice. Covers the origin and land use history of the Sefton Coast Liverpool to Southport and shows how sand-dunes are formed and develop over time. It goes on to describe the plants and animals of the sand-dunes and examines how this important area is being conserved and managed for the future. Newsletter Google 4. Help pages. Prothero Michael J. Benton Richard Fortey View All. Go to British Wildlife.

This distinction was identified in the have contributed to an acceleration of succession and a survey described above, when much of the dense general increase in biomass. Especially in the UK, the grassy vegetation had to be assigned to SD7. These Myxomatosis outbreak was grasped as an opportunity to observations are a further indication of a continued trend investigate a landscape scale ecological experiment.

The towards increased stability and biomass. Gateley and disease spread in Wales in Before the continued on both dunes and dune slacks where these outbreak, about 14, rabbits were caught annually; after actions have not occurred.

Ranwell observed In spite of the large coastal dune resource in Scotland a boost of vegetation growth with a large increase in over 50, ha , there is little information on changes in vegetation height already in the first year after the rabbit vegetation during the past decades. Dargie mentions reduction. A number of grass, sedge but also moss species the abundance of short dune grassland, clearly associated to showed an increase in abundance e.

Carex arenaria, stock grazing. Festuca rubra, Pseudoscleropodium purum and Rhitidia- delphus squarosus. In contrast, several low forbs, graminoids, mosses and lichens decreased e.

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Festuca Causes of recent change tenuis, Luzula campestris, Prunella vulgaris, Climacium dendroides and Syntrichia ruraliformis. Changes in land use Similar observations were made on Blakeney Point, Norfolk where the Myxomatosis outbreak occurred in Over the last century there have been many changes in land February White Before this date, the dunes use affecting the vegetation of dune systems.

Dominant were heavily over-grazed by rabbits. The area coupled with increasing perception of dunes as providing of open sand decreased, mosses such as Brachythecium coastal defence. The dunes of ruraliformis declined. Rabbits were not recorded again Oostvoorne for example were heavily grazed with cattle until Around Edmondson et al. On other abandonment of agricultural activities might also play a sites, such as Haasvelderduinen Ehrenburg et al.

Ehrenburg et al. Several other studies support vegetation growth, which has a stabilising effect. Similar the evidence for a relationship between scrub encroach- ambiguous effects can be expected from sea level changes ment and rabbit numbers Van der Maarel et al. Talbot and Lancaster Anderson and Romeril There is balance between precipitation and actual evapotranspira- certainly a general parallel with the impact of livestock tion which broadly governs the rate and extent of grazing, although diet preferences and impact of trampling vegetation growth.

Therefore, the history of Furthermore, human activities can drastically influence livestock grazing and fluctuation in rabbit population will geomorphological processes, both in terms of erosion at least theoretically enable the clarification of site specific and stabilisation.


Recently, people have had considerable vegetation patterns and processes. In general however, influence in stabilising dune systems. Dunes are recog- lack of detailed information will complicate the unravel- nised as an important element of coastal defence, ling of these two types of herbivore impact.

Furthermore, especially after the great storm-surge flooding around other factors play a role. Jones unpublished in a detailed the North Sea in Even before this time, the leading study of the aerial photographic record at Newborough dune ridge was often stabilised and raised in elevation to Warren showed that the onset of stabilisation preceded protect areas lying behind e.

While the catastrophic der Maarel ; Adriani and Terwindt There is decline in the rabbit population may have accelerated the for instance a long tradition of marram planting through- rate of stabilisation, evidence suggests that other factors out Europe e. Isermann and Cordes ; Edmondson such as climate were operating at the same time to alter et al. Particularly in the Netherlands, considerable rates of vegetation establishment and rates of soil dune stabilisation occurred, reducing sand supply and development Jones et al. Arens et al. This does not only mean loss of mobile dune for the UK dunes.

Clemmensen and Murray see a habitat but also prevents the development of new dune similar cause for the decline of aeolian sand transport in slacks. In general, stability initiates ageing of dunes Denmark but argue that an overall decline of storminess implying a gradual loss of young, often calcareous habitat, also contributed. Also Clarke and Rendell found a which is one of the most characteristic features of coastal relationship between historical storminess and sand drift dunes. Large-scale processes Natural dune mobility is influenced by three groups of appear to be discernible above those of local scale effects.

Although many of the small scale sand present day is observed at many sites from North to South drift processes are well understood, the upscaling to the Wales Jones MLM, pers.

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The heterogeneity in dune chronologies Jones et al. Pye presents a comprehensive stabilise, it becomes hard to de-stabilise them. This overview of potential geomorphological changes in the hysteresis, or the difference in stabilisation and destabilisa- long term. In general, the picture is very complex because tion trajectory Fig. The destabilisation of a different way according to their magnitude. An increase dune requires much more energy, in terms of wind stress of in temperature, for instance, will generally lead to drought vegetation destruction, than the fixation Tsoar This and a higher susceptibility of dunes to sand drift.

On the partly explains the difficulties encountered with re- other hand, a limited increase in temperature will stimulate mobilisation projects Arens et al. According to Achermann and Bobbink , the critical load i. Soil conditions and eutrophication As a result, many dune systems in Europe exceed at least the lower end of the critical load range while some also Soil type exerts an important control on vegetation exceed the upper range of the critical load and we might development.

In dune systems, the initial carbonate content expect to see adverse impacts of N deposition around of the sand and meteorological conditions precipitation Europe, particularly where N deposition is highest.

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The resulting soil pH Anecdotal and empirical evidence for detrimental effects subsequently affects decomposition processes and nutrient of N deposition on dunes comes predominantly from the dynamics. Decomposition generally slows down in acidic Netherlands, Denmark and the UK. In the UK, a survey was conducted recently the dominant input to most semi-natural habitats in specifically to test for signals of N deposition Jones et al. Northwest Europe, including dunes, comes from atmo- This showed increases in biomass and decreases in spheric N deposition Bobbink et al. P availability is species diversity in dry dune grasslands with increasing N pH dependent and shows an optimum at pH 5, 2 in deposition.

Even in the mobile and semi-fixed dunes, plant calcareous dunes in the Netherlands Kooijman and Besse biomass and cover of Ammophila arenaria increased with At higher pH, P is largely fixed in calcium N deposition. Kooijman et al. For heathlands into grasslands Heil and Diemont Phosphorus when exposed to high levels of N Mohd-Said ; van limitation is more common where there has been a long den Berg et al.

Phosphorus limitation prevents many of the species diversity. Plassmann et al. This may be because dunes have thinner soils than most However, P limitation is not universal in coastal dunes. Willis These findings suggest that N on species through their specific climatic requirements or deposition can alter soil processes, although not always in tolerances. Substantial evidence has been collected for the way expected. A proportion of the extra deposited N shifts in phenological timing and geographical ranges of may be stored by dune vegetation, particularly mosses species in response to global warming Root et al.

Since additional N can be stored in Berry et al. However, little is known about the actual both the vegetation and the soil, N deposition may well be influence of these shifts on the functioning of ecosystems speeding up the rate of succession itself. Evidence from a such as the temperate coastal dunes of Europe. Potential recent chronosequence study suggests that rates of soil climate change related mechanisms contributing to the development in dry dunes are considerably faster than those observed increase in phytomass and accelerated succession reported in older studies of comparable dune systems.

Finally Jones et al.

ibunitiq.ga Grazing can therefore mitigate some adverse Anthropogenisation of the landscape effects of N deposition Boorman and Fuller ; Kooijman and Smit ; ten Harkel and van der Meulen Most of the above mentioned causes of change in plant By contrast, other management activities such as use communities are linked to human activities but they have of dunes for water filtration, have resulted in severe a geographically widespread effect. In this paragraph, we eutrophication and rapid spread of nitrophiles van der add a number of anthropogenic influences which are Meulen ; van Dijk A first element is human Biological N fixation is both a natural process in dunes infrastructure development on sand dune coasts, which is and a major factor governing the rate and speed of widespread in northwest Europe.

A major consequence, succession. N input in early successional habitats through apart from habitat loss, is landscape fragmentation, which N-fixation by legumes and by cyanobacteria facilitates is particularly disrupting large scale geomorphological colonisation by other species. However, non-native N processes.

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Moreover, the presence of urban areas, agri- fixers such as Lupinus spp. Apart from nitrophiles such as Urtica dioica, Rubus fruticosus or housing and infrastructure, development includes the Chamaerion angustifolium. Climate change Major landscape change in European coastal dunes during the past centuries however, has been caused by afforestation, The contribution of climate change to the recent changes in either for stabilisation or economic return Favennec ; dune vegetation is difficult to asses.

The impact of climate Petit-Berghem ; Provoost and Van Landuyt ; van on ecosystems is complex because it affects many process- der Maarel et al. Apart from the loss of herbaceous coastal dunes on pan European scale: 1 changes in land vegetation, the presence of woodland weakens the wind use, 2 nitrogen enrichment and 3 climate change. Bakker ; Rhind et landscape stabilisation and increased vegetation succession. Furthermore, most of the plantations consist of These synergistic effects complicate the understanding of non-native species, mainly conifers. For example, analysis of the soil organic matter An important consequence of urbanisation is the large content in Newborough Warren in relation to fixation date numbers of non-native vascular plant species introduced to Jones et al.

However, it is very and become invasive on the dunes. Along the highly difficult to separate the effects of N-deposition and elevated urbanised Belgian coast, the proportion of non-native species temperature in this process. Many of the Moreover, some processes are characterised by internal invasive species are characteristic for scrub and woodland positive feedback.

This is shown for grass encroachment by Provoost and Van Landuyt Litter accumulation in tall grass vegetation of the vascular plant species are non-native. Another example is scrub encroach- every 12 m Edmondson In colonisation van Dorp et al. The relatively complexity.