Since 2005 our team has been employing a spatially explicit model of vegetation dynamics (Landis-II) supported by the collection and analysis of empirical data, to examine the potential impact of different disturbances on the spatial dynamics and composition of the New Forest National Park. The overall aim of the research is to inform conservation management plans, both in relation to browsing and to other forms of anthropogenic disturbance undertaken as part of management, including the cutting and burning of vegetation. Our results indicated that over the duration of the Landis-II simulations (300 years), woodland area increased in all scenarios, with or without browsing (Video 1 and 2, respectively). Model projections provided little evidence for the conversion of woodland areas to either grassland or heathland; changes in tree species composition were consistent with traditional successional theory (Video 1 and 2, please see figure 1 for legend).
Ongoing research is examining the relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem services/functions following different disturbance intensities, through the combined use of Landis-II and the CENTURY soil model.
Video 1: Output of LANDIS-II illustrating potential distribution of woodland cover under browsing, with projected richness of canopy dominant tree species , over 300 years simulation
Video 2: Output of LANDIS-II illustrating potential distribution of woodland cover without browsing, with projected richness of canopy dominant tree species, over 300 years simulation
Figure 1: Legend for videos 1 and 2.
Newton, A. C., Cantarello, E., Tejedor, N. and Myers, G. 2013. Dynamics and Conservation Management of a Wooded Landscape under High Herbivore Pressure. International Journal of Biodiversity, [Online]. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/273948.