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Calcareous grassland

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Calcareous grassland (or alkaline grassland) is an ecosystem associated with thin basic soil, such as that on chalk and limestone downland.[1] Plants on calcareous grassland are typically short and hardy, and include grasses and herbs such as clover. Calcareous grassland is an important habitat for insects, particularly butterflies and ants,[2] and is kept at a plagioclimax by grazing animals, usually sheep and sometimes cattle. Rabbits used to play a part but due to the onset of myxomatosis their numbers decreased so dramatically that they no longer have much of a grazing effect.

Ranscombe Farm, Medway on the North Downs. In June, these meadows are covered with chalk grassland flowers.

There are large areas of calcareous grassland in northwestern Europe, particularly areas of southern England, such as Salisbury Plain and the North and South Downs.

Wacholderheide, Swabian Alb, Naturschutzgebiet Digelfeld

The machair forms a different kind of calcareous grassland, where fertile low-lying plains are formed on ground that is calcium-rich due to shell sand (pulverised sea shells).

See also



  1. ^ Chalk Grassland HAP Archived 2009-01-07 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Mugnai, Michele; Frasconi Wendt, Clara; Balzani, Paride; Ferretti, Giulio; Dal Cin, Matteo; Masoni, Alberto; Frizzi, Filippo; Santini, Giacomo; Viciani, Daniele; Foggi, Bruno; Lazzaro, Lorenzo (2021). "Small-scale drivers on plant and ant diversity in a grassland habitat through a multifaceted approach". PeerJ. 9: e12517. doi:10.7717/peerj.12517. PMC 8711281. PMID 35036118.


  • Gibson, C.W.D. (1995). Chalk grasslands on former arable land: a review. Bioscan (UK) Ltd, Oxford.
  • Gibson, C.W.D. & Brown, V.K. (1991). The nature and rate of development of calcareous grassland in southern Britain. Biological Conservation, 58, 297-316.
  • Hillier, S.H., Walton, D.W.H. & Wells, D.A. (Eds.) (1990). Calcareous grasslands - ecology and management. Bluntisham, Huntingdon.
  • Mugnai M, Frasconi Wendt C, Balzani P, Ferretti G, Dal Cin M, Masoni A, Frizzi F, Santini G, Viciani D, Foggi B, Lazzaro L. (2021). Small-scale drivers on plant and ant diversity in a grassland habitat through a multifaceted approach. PeerJ 9:e12517 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.12517
  • Price, Elizabeth (2002), Grassland and heathland habitats, New York: Routledge, p. 208, ISBN 978-0-415-18762-6
  • Smith, C.J. (1980). The Ecology of the English Chalk. Academic Press, London.
  • Windrum, Andrew (June 1997). "Lincolnshire and Rutland Limestone ( NA38)" (PDF). Natural Areas. English Nature. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-02-06. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  • Bland ford, Chris. "BIODIVERSITY OPPORTUNITY MAPPING STUDY FOR CENTRAL LINCOLNSHIRE" (PDF). Greater Lincolnshire Nature Partnership. Retrieved 22 June 2014.