Ground flora of field boundary dry stone walls in the Burren, Ireland
Keywords:field boundaries, corridors, forb, floral ecology, agricultural ecology, limestone pavement
Despite the fact that field boundary (dry) stone walls are globally common in rural landscapes, very little research has been carried out regarding them. Dry stone walls may act as refuges for a range of plants and animals, especially in areas where conditions do not favour a high biodiversity or areas of high exposure. They may also provide connectivity via habitat corridors and may even serve as a habitat in their own right. This paper reports on a case study survey of the forb assemblages of field boundary dry stone walls in terms of species richness, biodiversity, and composition in comparison to the surrounding landscape, and aims to provide some insight into the floral ecology characteristics of dry stone walls. To accomplish this, the forbs growing in and immediately adjacent to 18 segments of dry stone wall in the Burren region of western Ireland, were surveyed. The forb assemblages growing within the walls were compared with those growing in the 0.5 m closest to the walls and those growing the areas 0.5-1.0 m on either side of the walls. The wall assemblages were shown to have lower species richness and each category of assemblage was shown to have significantly different species composition. This research indicates that the dry stone walls of the Burren may be associated with a distinct floral ecology, and therefore may act as habitat corridors in an otherwise exposed landscape.
Copyright (c) 2020 Lindsay Hollingsworth, Marcus Collier
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Copyright and licence: Authors (or their employers) retain their copyright in articles and images published in British & Irish Botany and are not required to assign this to the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland (BSBI). All that BSBI requires from authors is a license to publish the article in British & Irish Botany and make it freely available to all in pdf format under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License, which also enables BSBI to reproduce components of the article in other BSBI outputs (eg. BSBI News, the BSBI website and/or the BSBI News & Views blog) for publicity purposes. The licence code can be accessed here: