Vegetation ecology and conservation of potential turlough systems in the East Burren Complex SAC, Co. Clare.pdf

2018-09-17T23:17:11Z (GMT) by Spencer Malcolm McIntyre
Turloughs, the ephemeral lakes of Ireland, are unique landforms found in karstic limestone environments that form a dynamic habitat. By flooding seasonally, turloughs support a distinct flora that is capable of withstanding a highly variable environment. The Geological Survey of Ireland recognized 304 turloughs in 2006, and a further one has been designated in Wales. Turloughs are priority habitats under the EU Habitats Directive (2013) and thus turloughs designated as qualifying interests require monitoring. In this study, a group of small depressions in the limestone pavements of the East Burren SAC, Co. Clare were assessed to determine if the features function as turloughs and necessitate ongoing monitoring. <div><br></div><div> The southern Mullaghmore site is made up of seven features to the south of Mullaghmore, and scattered across the limestone grasslands and pavements between Lough Cuil Reasc and Travann Lough. The features were mapped and surveyed for vegetation community composition through quadrats representing a minimum 2% of the area of the feature. Vegetation communities were then assembled through non-metric scaling (NMS) ordination and indicator species analysis (ISA) to represent the vegetation of each individual feature and allow for identification of an inundation gradient where present. These communities and species of indicator or conservation interest were then related to previous turlough studies. The southern Mullaghmore site holds high levels of diversity in these small landforms, with several unique features showing turlough-like function, with distinctly diverse vegetation communities. Feature #1 in particular was shown to resemble a turlough and should be further studied and monitored for changes to its conservation status, in relation to its pressures.</div>