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International Journal of Biodiversity
Volume 2013, Article ID 273948, 15 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/273948
Research Article

Dynamics and Conservation Management of a Wooded Landscape under High Herbivore Pressure

Centre for Conservation Ecology and Environmental Science, School of Applied Sciences, Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus, Poole, Dorset BH12 5BB, UK

Received 8 March 2013; Accepted 7 May 2013

Academic Editor: James T. Anderson

Copyright © 2013 Adrian C. Newton et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

We present the use of a spatially explicit model of woodland dynamics (LANDIS-II) to examine the impacts of herbivory in the New Forest National Park, UK, in relation to its management for biodiversity conservation. The model was parameterized using spatial data and the results of two field surveys and then was tested with results from a third survey. Field survey results indicated that regeneration by tree species was found to be widespread but to occur at low density, despite heavy browsing pressure. The model was found to accurately predict the abundance and richness of tree species. Over the duration of the simulations (300 yr), woodland area increased in all scenarios, with or without herbivory. While the increase in woodland area was most pronounced under a scenario of no herbivory, values increased by more than 70% even in the presence of heavy browsing pressure. Model projections provided little evidence for the conversion of woodland areas to either grassland or heathland; changes in woodland structure and composition were consistent with traditional successional theory. These results highlight the need for multiple types of intervention when managing successional landscape mosaics and demonstrate the value of landscape-scale modelling for evaluating the role of herbivory in conservation management.