Vegetation succession and lichen diversity on dry coastal calcium-poor dunes and the impact of management experiments

R. Ketner-Oostra, K.V. Sykora

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The negative impact of grass and moss encroachment on the botanical diversity of West European coastal dunes attracted increasing attention in the 1990s. This paper focuses on moss encroachment during primary succession in the xeroseries. Until the mid-1970s, vegetation types rich in species of the lichen genera Cladonia and Cladina were found on the fixed. Corynephorus canescens-dominated, so-called grey dunes all over the island of Terschelling, The Netherlands. In addition, species of Hypogymnia, Parmelia and Usnea, which usually grow on trees, occured here terrestrially on moss carpets or bare sand. These vegetation types are still present on the Noordsvaarder, a nature reserve in the western part of the island. They occur on parts of seven dune ridges parallel to the coast and form a chronosequence in which age increases with distance from the sea. Our study found the highest lichen diversity on the second and third dune ridges in a stage of primary succession that can be assigned to the Violo-Corynephoretum. The changes from lichen-rich to moss-dominated stadia were significantly related to soil development and acidification in connection with the ageing of the dune soil. The superficial cutting of sods in moss-encroached vegetation appeared to be unsuccessful as a management technique for restoring the biodiversity of cryptogams. Our findings suggest that the best option for maintaining lichen vegetation in the Violo-Corynephoretum is the blow-in of sand with a subneutral or neutral pH from reactivated and natural blowouts or from foredunes, with increasing lime content respectively.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-206
JournalJournal of Coastal Conservation
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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