Biodiversity and species succession of the Black Ven - Spittle’s landslide complex, Dorset

Rebecca Pearson, Andy Gibson, Rob Inkpen

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Many landslides are known locally as important landforms that may contain rare or protected species of flora or fauna. Landslides, especially active ones, may present complex, unique habitats for such species to thrive. Difficulties posed to development or agriculture also tends to reduce anthropogenic influences. Landslide terrains are often subject to careful investigation and monitoring during any remediation or chance discovery of a particular organism. However, few detailed studies have been carried out on the ecology of landslides in Britain. Thus, the ecological value of landslides is little known and the impact of remediation is not fully understood. Fundamental knowledge of the mechanisms that control the biodiversity and species succession on British landslides is lacking. This paper describes the results of a preliminary survey to examine plant species succession and biodiversity on a section of the Black Ven landslide complex in West Dorset. Eight sites were examined in areas (zones) of the complex representing different rates of movement: stable, incipient (recently active) and active. In total, 39 plant species were identified and described. The greatest species diversity was found to be present in the active zone. The active zone also coincided with the lowest ground cover. Three notable (locally important) species were found in the active zone whilst none was found in the
stable zone. Although only a small-scale study, we have demonstrated that there is value in considering further research into plant succession in landslides, and that studies of unimproved habitats might usefully consider landslide activity as an important factor. This now forms part of a larger study at Portsmouth to investigate fundamental relationships between ground disturbance and ecosystem services and implications for planning and engineering decisions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-231
JournalGeoscience in South-West England
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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