Investigating the drivers of spatial and temporal biodiversity patterns of the Machair

Lewis, Robert
Investigating the drivers of spatial and temporal biodiversity patterns of the Machair. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, University of Liverpool.

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In plant ecology, understanding which species live where and why is fundamental for ensuring successful conservation management with the aim of maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services. Biodiversity patterns in space can be empirically linked to spatially scaled environmental processes, providing a greater understanding to how plant species assemblages change along differing environmental gradients. In the same way, biodiversity patterns in time can be linked to temporal trends in the environment, empirically linking changes in vegetation to changes in the external environment. This furthers understanding of how plant communities are likely to respond to future scenarios of environmental change, providing an insight into future shifts in biodiversity patterns and, in turn, how his may influence valuable ecosystem functions and services upon which humans ultimately depend. Trends in human land use have been shown to be the single most influential driver of current global biodiversity change to date. This, coupled with a changing climate, suggests vegetation communities on a global scale are under increasing pressure to adapt to multiple dynamically changing environmental constraints. This thesis focuses on a globally-rare semi-natural, coastal grassland habitat termed ‘Machair’, renowned for its high biodiversity and cultural heritage importance. Confined solely to the north-western fringe of Europe, the Machairs have formed through unique combinations of geo-physiological and climatic conditions, and even more importantly, century-long associations with human land use through which the low-intensity intermediate disturbance is considered to be vital in maintaining its biodiversity value. However, change in the management of the Machairs alongside other environmental drivers of change, particularly climate, provides major concerns for the biodiversity value of this habitat. In this thesis, spatial and temporal biodiversity patterns of Machair vegetation are investigated to assess the major drivers of change and identify regions which may require future conservation efforts to restore and/or maintain the future biodiversity value of this globally-rare habitat. To achieve this, a spatio-temporal dataset of Scottish Machair vegetation first collected in 1976-77 and then re-surveyed in 2009-10 was used. Analyses found both climate and land use management to influence spatial and temporal vegetation patterns of Scotland’s Machair and Machair grassland. Climate was shown to operate at relatively broad scales (>50km), while the influence of different measurable components of climate was also found to significantly affect temporal turnover patterns of Machair grassland assemblages. Land use management, predominantly at a relatively fine scale (

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy)
Additional Information: Date: 2012-09 (completed)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Coastal Grasslands, Semi-natural Grasslands, Functional Traits, Beta Diversity, Turnover, Land Use Change, Climate Change, Scotland
Subjects: ?? Q1 ??
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Engineering > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2013 09:22
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2022 04:37
DOI: 10.17638/00008455
  • Marrs, RHM
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