Higher Geography Physical Environments Biosphere Vegetation ...

Higher Geography Physical Environments Biosphere Vegetation ...

Vegetation Succession Moorlands Plagioclimax Community: A stable plant community that has arisen as a result of human intervention in the natural succession of communities. Moorlands - plant succession On frost shattered rock a pioneer community, often algae and lichen start to form Plants spread, form a crust and absorb water

and minerals As plants die, small amounts of organic matter build up Grasses and mosses take advantage of the new niches created by pioneering plants Moorlands - plant succession A plant sequence of plant communities inhabiting a site is a plant succession or a sere There are several stages on a site as it changes over time - from the pioneer stage then the building

stage and finally a mature climatic climax Climatic climax - vegetation is relatively stable Self sustaining - inputs of energy and nutrients balanced by outputs of energy and nutrients Moorlands - plant succession Arresting factors e.g. burning prevents a climatic climax being reached Plant community e.g. moorland is prevented from developing further through mans actions and is described as a plagioclimax

Task Study the graph on the next slide and note down what is occurring over time to the number of: Lichens Mosses and grasses Heathers Tree species Total species Moorlands - plant succession Copy this

diagram Moorlands - plant succession Total number of species - steady rise over time Lichens Rise in number then decline and die out (pioneer species) as mosses and grasses take over

Mosses & grasses Steady rise and very gradual decline over long time period Heathers Sharp rise as mosses & grasses begin to decline Trees

Tree numbers increase at later stage of succession. Gradual rise in number of species as soil depth, plant cover increases Moorlands - plant succession Moorlands - plant succession Conservation and regeneration measures e.g. deer fencing, deer culling and tree planting have been put in

place to help encourage forest ecosystems An attempt is being made to increase the small area (c3% of land surface in Scotland) covered with natural climax vegetation Ecosystem development Communities develop as ecosystems in response to many factors, including mans

influence In the U.K. much forest has given way to moorland as a result of a combination of: tree felling, burning and grazing In Scotland extensive stands of Scots pine, oak and birch have been removed The effects of human activity on succession a heather moorland plagioclimax community Task : Describe how the heather moorland has

been affected by human activity. Heather management - grazing Prevents natural regeneration of trees Damage by deer and sheep, if unrestricted, prevents young saplings growing into trees Heather provides good nutrition for sheep, red deer, cattle and red grouse Heather Burning (muirburn) Periodic burning of heather helps creates young nutritious growth for grazing animals, particularly red

grouse The older taller heather creates an environment suitable for nesting and cover for birds Careful burning creates a heather ecosystem with a mix of different ages of heather 4 growth stages of heather are: pioneer, building, mature and degenerative Heather ecosystem Pioneer heather ~5 years

Moss and lichen Small green heather plants Building heather ~15 years Mature heather ~25 years Nutritious heather shoots

Heather is dominant but becoming woody Moorlands - plant succession Degenerative heather ~ 30 years Wavy hair grass and blueberry invade the degenerating heather

Scrub woodland ecosystem Grass, shrubs and trees start to also invade heather Climax Scots pine and birch woodland Moorlands - plant succession

As a result of grazing and burning, heather remains a plagioclimax community preventing the climax stage of Scots pine and birch woodland from establishing Red grouse originally occupied the woodland but have now adapted to the open moorland ecosystem, they depend on green heather shoots, buds and seeds for most of their diet They also eat other plants e.g. bell heather, sheeps fescue, blaeberry (and midges!) Moorlands - plant succession Since around 1950 the extent of heather and

number of grouse have declined due to: - reclamation of low lying land - reforestation by commercial forestry - overgrazing by sheep and deer - poor muirburn - soil erosion - increased grouse diseases - increased protection of birds of prey - increased incidence of heather beetle Glossary Climax Stage: Taller and more complex plants can

grow Plants from earlier stages die out because of competition for light and water Ecosystem: A unit which links living organisms with each other and their physical environment (rock, soil, air and water) Equilibrium:

When a vegetation community is relatively stable and self sustaining Glossary Muirburn: Burning to manage the structure of heather as a habitat for grouse Niches:

Status of an organism within its environment and community Pioneer stage: The first species to colonise a new environment Plagioclimax: A stable plant community that has arisen as a result of human intervention in the natural succession of communities

Glossary Plant succession/ sere: Sequence of plant communities inhabiting the same site through time Reclamation: Modification of land to a usable condition

Reforestation: Re-establishment of a forest environment Original ppt courtesy of The Macauley Institute good stuff!! Macauley Institute

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