The classification and management of limestone pavements - an endangered habitat
AuthorsWillis, Sue D. M.
AdvisorsBurek, Cynthia V.
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractThis thesis describes an in-depth study of limestone pavements across North West England and North Wales. The aim was to combine elements of geodiversity and biodiversity in order to create a holistic limestone pavement classification to inform future management. A field-based research protocol was used to assess a stratified random sample (46 pavements), accounting for approximately 10% of the limestone pavements in the geographical area. Detailed analyses of key elements are presented, along with important issues that continue to pose threats to this Annex One Priority Habitat. This research resulted in a comprehensive classification, using TWINSPAN analysis and Nonmetric Multidimensional Scaling, identifying six distinct holistic functional groups. The prime factors driving limestone pavement morphology, and hence the classification, were established to be lithology, proximity to structural fault, altitude and human intervention, particularly in terms of grazing intensity. Three upland, open limestone pavement classes were formed. Of these, the richest in terms of geodiversity and biodiversity was the group with the thickest bedding planes and hence the deepest grikes, typically greater than 1m. The class that was most species-poor was "at the highest altitude (above 450m), formed on the thin limestones of the Yoredales. These were characterised by shallow, wide grikes. The third upland limestone pavement group had mid-range grikes, generally 0.5-1m in depth, and small clints. Two wooded classes were identified. One was a lowland 'classic' wooded limestone pavement group with deep, narrow grikes and shallow soils. Indicator species included Juniperus communis and Taxus baccata. The second wooded group was situated proximal to a major structural fault. In this group the pavement dip ranged between 10°-40° with well-runnelled clints that were heavily moss-covered. The sixth group was low altitude, proximal to the coast, characterised by low moss growth, un-vegetated clints and the presence of Ulex europaeus. Conservation management was identified as key to the quality of the limestone pavement habitat and this thesis identifies best management practises and links these to the holistic limestone pavement classification. Finally, as a sample case study, this thesis presents mollusc species and diversity from eleven of the Yorkshire limestone pavements. Analysis establishes significant links between geodiversity and mollusc populations, with key drivers for mollusc communities echoing those of plant species on limestone pavement.
TypeThesis or dissertation
SponsorsFunded by the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the University of Chester.
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