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Ecological qualities emerging from non-intervention management of heathlands

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Chapter Summary

This chapter emphasizes the ecological importance of the humus form of dry heathland soils and describes succession series as a result of undisturbed humus profile development in different site types. These series are reconciled with gradients in productivity and land use intensity in the 19th century landscape. The chapter considers only dry or intermittent wet soils and excludes wet heaths and mires on soils influenced by regional groundwater systems or with persistent stagnation. Sandy soils with low loam content show eluviation of humus, aluminium and iron-oxides which accumulate into deeper soil horizons. The chapter considers three types for lowland dry heathlands: podzols, loamy sands including sandy loams, and driftsands. It also considers vegetation types of inland dry heathlands dominated by dwarf shrubs, grasses, mosses or lichens including forms dominated by grasses. The vegetation development is mainly determined by features of the parent material instead of the humus profile.

Keywords: ecology; grasses; heathlands; humus forms; lowland dry heathland types; natural vegetation; regional groundwater systems



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