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Vegetation responses to local climatic changes induced by a water-storage reservoir

Huntley, B; Baxter, R; Lewthwaite, KJ; Willis, SG; Adamson, JK


B Huntley

R Baxter

KJ Lewthwaite

JK Adamson


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.


Huntley, B., Baxter, R., Lewthwaite, K., Willis, S., & Adamson, J. (1998). Vegetation responses to local climatic changes induced by a water-storage reservoir. Global ecology and biogeography letters, 7(4), 241-257

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 1998-07
Journal Global ecology biogeography letters.
Print ISSN 0960-7447
Publisher Blackwell
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Issue 4
Pages 241-257
Keywords climate change; acid deposition; long-term vegetation change;grassland; microclimate; reservoir impacts; nuclear DNA content; UpperTeesdale FloraNITROGEN DEPOSITION; GRASSLANDS; LIMESTONE