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van Til, M., Kooijman, A.. Rapid improvement of grey dunes after shallow sod cutting. In: Isermann, M., Kiehl, K. (eds.). Restoration of Coastal Ecosystems. Coastline Reports (7), pp. 53-60. EUCC - The Coastal Union , Leiden, 2007.


Grey dunes are an important habitat in Dutch coastal sand dunes, harbouring various Red Data Book flora and fauna species. However, during the last decades, dune grasslands belonging to this habitat have suffered from severe grass encroachment due to prolonged stabilisation, atmospheric pollution, and rabbit decline. In the Amsterdam Water supply Dunes shallow sod cutting was applied in 2002 on a small scale in dune grasslands of the syntaxa Taraxaco-Galietum veri and Phleo-Tortuletum ruraliformis, with high cover of the tall grass species Calamagrostis epigejos and Elytrichia maritima. In this article, we describe the first results of sod cutting, which was executed in order to recover dune grassland vegetation and the accompanying characteristic fauna species. Soil and biomass were studied and permanent plots were used for vegetation survey and pellet counting of rabbits. In addition, several insect groups were monitored in pitfalls and plots, and along transects. The dune grasslands of the Taraxaco-Galietum veri show a strong increase of characteristic plant species and a recovery of rabbits, butterflies and grasshoppers. In the dune grasslands of the Phleo-Tortuletum ruraliformis vegetation responds more slowly to sod cutting, probably due to lower nutrient availability. Number of rabbits and the grasshopper Oedipoda caerulescens increased as well. The longer-term effects remain to be seen, but the results indicate that a rapid improvement of vegetation and fauna can be reached after shallow sod cutting of grass-encroached grey dunes.

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