A comparative analysis of decline in the distribution ranges of orchid species in Estonia and the United Kingdom

Kull, Tiiu and Hutchings, Michael J (2006) A comparative analysis of decline in the distribution ranges of orchid species in Estonia and the United Kingdom. Biological Conservation, 129 (1). pp. 31-39. ISSN 0006-3207

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National databases were interrogated to analyse and compare proportional alterations in the distribution ranges of orchid species between two surveys in the UK (surveys completed in 1969 and 1999) and in Estonia (surveys completed in 1970 and 2004). Nearly every species declined between the surveys in both countries, and two species may have become extinct in the UK. Mean decline in distribution range for 49 species in the UK was 50% (range 14¿100%), and 23 species declined by over 50%. The mean decline for 33 orchid species in Estonia was 25% (range 0¿62%), and three species declined by over 50%. These results corroborate serious range declines recently reported for orchids in other regions of Europe (the Netherlands and Flanders, Belgium). In contrast with these other regions, we found that species associated with calcareous grassland and woodland habitats had suffered greater mean contractions in range than species of wet grassland habitats. Greater decline was recorded for species found on drier soils, and for species characteristic of open habitats. In addition, greater decline was found in species with short inflorescences, and in species that were short-lived, and clonal. Our results suggest that levels of decline shown both by groups of species associated with specific habitat types, and by particular species of orchid, depend strongly on local policies and specific conservation action, and indicate the habitat types on which conservation efforts may need to be concentrated in the future. The results suggest that grazing and mowing of competing vegetation, and avoidance of substrate disturbance, will produce the greatest rewards for the most vulnerable species.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Biology and Environmental Science
Depositing User: Michael Hutchings
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:52
Last Modified: 21 Mar 2012 09:56
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/22684
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