Lowland heath

Effects of grazing on heathland: evidence of benefits from a controlled experiment

In 2011, as part of a wider project monitoring different heathland-management approaches, livestock were introduced to Chobham Common, one of the largest remaining heathlands within the Thames Basin Heaths. In this article, Jonathan Cox and Clive Bealey discuss how grazing has impacted heathland vegetation at Chobham Common, and the implication of these results for heathland management in general. The

The Heath Potter Wasp: a detailed study

After six years of close observation, the author is able to paint a detailed picture of the engineering skills of this solitary wasp.  The Heath Potter Wasp Eumenes coarctatus is a fascinating inhabitant of heathlands in southern England. It belongs to the solitary-wasp family Eumenidae, all of which use mud to construct their nests. Of

Reserve Focus: Chobham Common National Nature Reserve

Chobham Common NNR is an extraordinarily large, diverse and species-rich area of heathland lying on each side of the M3 in north-west Surrey, barely 20 miles from the centre of London. It is heavily visited, with large areas of housing nearby, yet it retains an enormous range of species and is large enough to provide

The Ladybird Spider in Britain – its history, ecology and conservation

The Ladybird Spider Eresus sandaliatus (Martini & Goeze 1774) is currently thought to be restricted to a single known natural site in the British Isles. Also recorded as Eresus niger and E. cinnaberinus, it has a fascinating life history but spends most of the time hidden underground, and is often diffcult to locate even for the practised eye. 

Long-term experimental studies of lowland grasslands and heaths in the UK

In the UK, the majority of long-term ecological experiments have originated in the last three decades. Exceptions include the two classic experiments, Park Grass, at Rothamsted (Silvertown et al. 2006), and Palace Leas (Cockle Park), near Newcastle (Arnold et al. 1976), both established in the 19th century. 

Beyond hypothesis – a long-term study of British snakes

During the summer of 1976 I recorded an Adder Vipera berus at a site near Corfe Castle, in Dorset. It was an adult female and measured 48cm. That same day, on nearby heathland, I also recored a male Smooth Snake Coronella austriaca, with a length of 45cm. 

The Purbeck Mason-wasp – back from the brink?

On 24th July 1868, the eminent Victorian entomologist G A James Rothney collected a spectacularly coloured wasp with which he was unfamiliar on Stoborough Heath, between Corfe Castle and Wareham, on the Isle of Purbeck, east Dorset. The wasp species that Rothney captured was subsequently described in 1869 as new to science by F Smith,

Reserve Focus – Thursley NNR, Surrey

The Wealden heathlands once covered an extensive area on the sandy soils of western Surrey. A combination of urbanisation, and neglect leading to woodland colonisation, has taken a severe toll, with relatively few good sites now left. The best of these remaining few undoubtedly Thursley, largely protected as a National Nature Reserve covering 325ha (just

Grazing the Lowland Heaths

The heathland landscape is dominated by tracts of Heather, Calluna vulgaris, and other dwarf shrubs of the Ericaceae family and is generally regarded as the response of nature to man's clearance of the primeval woodland on impoverished, base-deficient soils. There are strong ecological distinctions between heaths above 250m (moorlands), mostly on old rocks and under high

Wildlife Habitat Management – The Management of Lowland Heathlands for Wildlife

Lowland heath is an extremely scarce habitat in both national and international contexts. Western Europe possible contains less than 150,000ha, of which more than a third is in the UK. Once far more extensive, heaths have been reclaimed for agriculture, forestry and urban development. Most remaining areas are losing their wildlife value owing to the

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