Calcareous grassland (or alkaline grassland) is an ecosystem associated with thin basic soil, such as that on chalk and limestone downland. 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 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.
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.
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 Notes
Chalk Grassland HAP Archived 2009-01-07 at the Wayback Machine. References 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.
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
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