Plant ecology of lowland Alnus Glutinosa woodlands
: The management implications of species composition, requirements and distribution

  • Helen Miller

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Wet woodlands have been recognised as a priority habitat and have featured in the UK BAP since 1994. Although this has been acknowledged in a number of UK policies and guidelines, there is little information relating to their detailed ecology and management.
This research, focusing on lowland Alnus glutinosa woodlands, aimed to address this data paucity through the analysis of species requirements and to develop a methodology to guide appropriate management for this habitat for the benefit of wildlife.
To achieve these aims data were collected from 64 lowland Alnus glutinosa woodlands and a review of the literature was undertaken to identify species associated with the target habitat. The groundflora species found to be associated with lowland Alnus glutinosa woodland were assessed in relation to their optimal environmental conditions (Ellenberg indicator values) and survival strategies (Grime CSR-Strategy) to determine the characteristics (Characters of a Habitat; CoaHs) and range of intra-site conditions (Niches of a Habitat; NoaH). The methodologies, using CSR and Ellenberg indicator values in combination, were developed to determine NoaHs and were tested both quantitatively and qualitatively at different lowland Alnus glutinosa sites. The existence of CoaHs and NoaHs in actual sites was verified by detailed quadrat data gathered at three Alnus glutinosa woodlands at Stonebridge Meadows, Warwickshire, UK and analysed using TWINSPAN and DCA ordination. The CoaHs and NoaHs and their component species were confirmed to have the potential to occur in a particular woodland.
Following a literature search relating to the management of small wet woodlands within the UK, in conjunction with the current research, broad principles and strategies were identified for the management of lowland Alnus glutinosa woodland. Using the groundflora composition, an innovative procedure is developed and described for identifying the potential variation within a particular site and determining its appropriate management. Case studies were undertaken on distinct woodlands and the methodology proved effective.
Date of Award6 Feb 2012
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPeter D Hedges (Supervisor)


  • riparian
  • ground flora
  • ellenberg
  • CSR
  • wet

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