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Friday 17th January 2020

What is the relative impact of sheep and deer grazing on habitat?

  • Data on habitat condition from 11 Deer Management Groups show that dwarf shrub heath and blanket bog were most likely to be in unfavourable condition. This was mainly associated with the presence of sheep in these areas (Fig 1).

In general, deer grazing pressure is lower than that for sheep but where herbivore density data exist habitat condition declines as deer densities increased (Fig 2). However, habitat conditions tended to be lower when sheep were present regardless of sheep density.

The analysis of large scale grazing impact work was published in the Journal of Applied Ecology. Further analysis of this data in relation to the climate and soils of Scotland will be submitted for publication later in the year. Grazing impacts research has been presented at a number of public meetings, scientific conferences and in the media.

 Figure 1 – Association of grazing impacts on 11 DMGs with sheep (open circles) and deer (filled circles)

Albon, S.D., Brewer, M.J., O’Brien, S., Nolan, A.J. & Cope, D. 2007. Quantifying the grazing impacts associated with different herbivores on rangelands. Journal of Applied Ecology, 44, 1176-1187

Contact: Prof. Steve Albon

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