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14. References [top]
ADAS (1996) Monitoring the South Downs ESA 1987-1995.
Anon (1995) Biodiversity: The UK Steering Group Report - Volume 2: Action Plans,
Bibby, C, Housden, 5, Porter, R and Thomas, G (1989) A Conservation Strategy for Birds.
RSPB. Unpublished Report.
Fojt W. and Foster A. (1992) Reedbeds, their Wildlife and Requirements. The Creation and Management of reedbeds for Wildlife (ed. D. Ward). RSPB/Bristol University.
Haslam S.M (1972) Biological flora of the British Isles. Phragmites communis Trin. Journal of Ecology 60:565-610.
Painter, M (1994) The UK Reedbed Inventory Report. RSPB. Sandy.
Rodwell J.R. (1995) British Plant Communities Volume 4: Aquatic communities, swamps and tall-herb fens. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
RSPB (1994) Reedbed Habitat Action Plan. RSPB. Unpublished.
Sussex Wildlife Trust (1996) Vision for the Wildlife of Sussex, Sussex Wildlife Trust.
Wheeler, B.D. et. al. (1995) Wetland Resource Evaluation and the NRAs Role in its Conservation: 1. Resource Assessment. NRA.
15. Consultation [top]
In preparing this Plan the following groups were initially consulted:- Environment Agency, Sussex Wildlife Trust, English Nature, RSPB, East Sussex County Council, West Sussex County Council, relevant individuals in local councils, Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, Chichester Harbour Conservancy, Farming and Rural Conservation Agency, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Sussex Ornithological Society, Sussex Amphibian and Reptile Group, Butterfly Conservation and Dr Martin Willing (leading mollusc expert). Further comments were received from the members of the Sussex Biodiversity Partnership.
16. Appendices [top]
Ecology of Reedbeds
From: NVC S4 (Rodwell 1995)
Phragmites is a natural dominant in a wide range of permanently wet or periodically waterlogged habitats of differing trophic state and with a variety of substrates. Stands are common in open water transitions around lakes and ponds, in floodplain mires and in estuaries, where their extent can be considerable, along dykes (including those with brackish water), canals and sluggish lowland rivers, in small pools, peat cuttings and on salt-marshes. Cropping extends the occurrence of the community into some naturally drier situations.
Phragmites is a rhizomatous perennial with annual aerial parts. In general, Phragmites performs best and stands are most luxuriant and productive in wet, eutrophic habitats and can survive with water-tables which range between 2 m above the substrate to more than 1 m below and with various patterns of fluctuation or none. The best performance seems to be attained in Britain where the water level ranges from + 50 cm to - 20 cm and where there is flooding for at least several months of the year. Phragmites is moderately tolerant of saline waters and soils.
Light grazing need not be deleterious because thicker crops of shorter shoots can be produced if leading emergents are bitten off. However, heavy grazing may prevent shoot replacement and trampling can damage the upper rhizomes and hinder bud development in the autumn. Grazing combined with drainage is especially effective in speeding reed decline.
As well as providing a food source for some herbivores, larger stands of reed can offer a valuable breeding or roosting site for a variety of birds. Most of the British populations of bittern, marsh harrier and bearded tit nest exclusively in the community.
In natural situations, the community occurs as part of zonations which can, in any particular site, be related most frequently to a gradient of water-level. Frequently, the community gives way directly to some form of fen.
When undisturbed the community can be very persistent. It can retain its dominance under a wide variety of conditions and in optimal habitats stands can be very extensive and long-lived.
Monodominant stands of reed are simple systems with few associated species. In natural situations, reedbeds occur marginal to open water, where it may form part of early hydroseral succession, and also within floodplain fens such as Broadland. Stands may also occur at the heads of estuaries and upper salt marshes. Stands of reed may also be found in artificial situations such as extraction pits. The largest stands of reed occur within flood plain mires. (from Fojt and Foster 1992)
Reedbeds will be of maximum value where they form part of a wetland complex with adjacent lakes, ponds, wet meadow, open water, saltmarsh, carr and/or woodland.
Reedbed Dependent Species:
The bittern is a rare breeding species in Britain, with no recent breeding records in Sussex. They are confined to lowland marshes dominated by common reed. They require large wet reedbeds in which to breed which are freshwater, at least 20 ha in size, 20% open water and with a water depth between 10 - 25 cm. They require an extensive reededge / open water interface and an abundance of fish prey.
Marsh harriers are now recovering from near extinction in the early 1970s. They nest in secluded reedbed and may hunt over much of the surrounding area taking small birds, mammals and other vertebrates. Wet reedbeds are less favoured. The size of reedbed is not critical but large sites (> 25 ha) are preferred.
The bearded tit is dependent on drier reedbeds than the previous species. Most birds are found in solid tracts of reed and associated dense, tall, non-woody vegetation growing by, or often in, fresh or brackish water and adjoining marshes and swamps.
This species is still rare in Britain, but their occurrence has a distinctly south-easterly bias. They are generally restricted to large, wet reedbeds, that contain or are adjacent to mixed herbaceous fen and scrub. They are insectivores, and prefer to nest in drier areas of wet reedbeds.
Not restricted to large stands of reedbed, this species is often found nesting in reed margins of watercourses.
Favours a mix of reed and sedge species, as well as some individual or small groups of willow trees within the reed.
Key Biodiversity Species Associated with Reedbed Habitat
National Reedbed Habitat Action Plan Objectives and Proposed Targets
From: Biodiversity -The UK Steering Group Report (1995).
Bittern Species Action Plan Objectives and Targets
From: Biodiversity - The UK Steering Group Report (1995).