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Biodiversity of plants and molluscs in woodland and grassland habitats in a limestone landscape – effects of grazing and fragmentation

Maria Long

Maria Long

Supervisor: Dr. Daniel Kelly

Grazing, Mollusc, Burren

Grazing animals are known to have significant impacts on biodiversity. It is often unclear however, whether these impacts are positive or negative. For example, fenced exclosures have been used in Killarney to confirm that oakwood biodiversity may be threatened by either high grazing levels or the absence of grazing. It is agreed, however, that there is a lack of experimental data in general on the effects of grazing on Irish habitats. The Burren is famous as one of the most botanically interesting and biodiverse areas in Ireland. With regard to the molluscan fauna, about 70 of the 100 Irish land snail species occur within the study region. This project aims to investigate experimentally the impact of grazing on biodiversity in woodland, grassland and scrub in the Burren and adjacent areas. This will be done through a network of permanent plots and fenced exclosures. These exclosures have been erected at 12 sites and the study will monitor responses among the communities of vascular plants and molluscs. Additional work will investigate the dynamics of some rare or specialised woodland plants within the landscape in order to elucidate the effects of fragmentation.


Long, M. P. and Kelly, D. L. (2008). Grazing effects on plant and mollusc diversity in woodland and grassland habitats in north Clare and south Galway. Abstract published in: Abstracts and Excursion Guides - 17th International Workshop, European Vegetation Survey” 2008. Milan Chytry (ed.) Masaryk University, Brno. (

Crook, A. C., Long, M. and Barnes, D. K. A. (2000). Quantifying daily migration in the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus. Journal of the Marine Biological Association 80, 177-178.

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Last updated 14 December 2009