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Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 1491–1509 | Cite as

Livestock Trampling Reduces the Conservation Value of Beetle Communities on High Quality Exposed Riverine Sediments

  • Adam J. Bates
  • Jon P. Sadler
  • Adrian P. Fowles
Original Paper

Abstract

Exposed riverine sediments (ERS) are habitat for a large number of rare and threatened specialist species of invertebrates and are of considerable conservation importance. Livestock trampling is believed to be one of the most widespread causes of damage to ERS habitats in the UK, and as such, its effects were the focus of this investigation. Beetle density was measured at two points within 25 distinct patches of habitat along ∼ ∼47 km of the Afon Tywi special site of scientific interest in South Wales, which is known to support an extremely good quality ERS beetle fauna in a UK context. Partial canonical correspondence analyses were used to explore the relationship between beetle assemblage and a range of environmental variables. The percentage of fine (<8 mm) sediments, median sediment size, distance downstream, cattle stocking levels, and counts of sheep faeces were found to best relate to beetle abundance and assemblage structure. Species richness was positively associated with stocking levels, probably because of the addition of species associated with resultant elevated levels of silt and organic matter. The ERS quality score, which is a measure of conservation value based on the rarity of specialist ERS beetles, was negatively associated with measures of trampling damage. It was therefore concluded that livestock trampling reduces the conservation value of beetle communities on high quality ERS and management should restrict trampling in sites of high conservation importance.

Keywords

Afon Tywi Carabidae Disturbance Grazing Indicator species Partial canonical correspondence analysis Species diversity Staphylinidae Rarity Riparian 

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Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham and the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) for funding this study; Kevin Burkhill and Anne Ankorn for the preparation of Fig. 1; Richard Johnson for help with equipment preparation; Nigel Stringer and Sarah Andrews (CCW) for obtaining land access permission; and the many landowners who allowed site access.

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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adam J. Bates
    • 1
  • Jon P. Sadler
    • 1
  • Adrian P. Fowles
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Geography, Earth and Environmental SciencesThe University of BirminghamEdgbastonUK
  2. 2.Countryside Council for WalesPlas PenrhosUK

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