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Durham University

Department of Biosciences


Publication details for Professor Stephen G Willis

Huntley, B, Baxter, R, Lewthwaite, KJ, Willis, SG & Adamson, JK (1998). Vegetation responses to local climatic changes induced by a water-storage reservoir. Global Ecology And Biogeography Letters 7(4): 241-257.
  • Publication type: Journal Article
  • ISSN/ISBN: 0960-7447
  • Keywords: climate change; acid deposition; long-term vegetation change;grassland; microclimate; reservoir impacts; nuclear DNA content; UpperTeesdale FloraNITROGEN DEPOSITION; GRASSLANDS; LIMESTONE

Author(s) from Durham


In this paper we compare results from two vegetation surveys carried
out immediately before (1969-72) and c. 25 years after the
controversial impoundment of a water-storage reservoir within the Upper
Teesdale National Nature Reserve (NNR) in northern England. The
comparison reveals significant changes in grassland composition on a
hill adjacent to the reservoir. Several environmental changes may have
occurred at Widdybank Fell during the last c. 25 yr and caused these
vegetation changes. We have identified five environmental factors that
are likely to have changed over this period: grazing pressure, acid
deposition, atmospheric deposition of major nutrients (nitrogen and
phosphorus), regional climate and local climate as a result of a 'lake
effect' of the reservoir. We hale examined the evidence available in
each case. The records of change for these various factors leads us to
conclude that, whereas factors other than local climate may account for
changes in bryophyte components of the grasslands, none of the other
factors can account for observed changes amongst the vascular plants. A
major component of the vegetation changes observed can only readily be
accounted for by an alteration in local climate as a consequence of the
influence of the reservoir. This has important implications for future
assessments of the environmental impacts of planned reservoirs. The
impact of such local climate changes also calls into question
assertions about global climate changes and the extent of their likely
impacts, and provides insight into the conservation problems that arise
from such changes.