• Historical Grassland Turboveg Database Project. 2067 Relevés recorded by Dr Austin O’ Sullivan 1962 – 1982

      Bourke, David; Hochstrasser, Tamara; Nolan, Stephen; Schulte, Rogier P.; National Parks and Wildlife Service (Teagasc, 01/09/2007)
      The more common grassland types occupy about 70% of the Irish landscape (O’Sullivan, 1982), but information on these vegetation types is rare. Generally, Irish grasslands are distinguished based on the intensity of their management (improved or semi-natural grasslands), and the drainage conditions and acidity of the soil (dry or wet, calcareous or acidic grassland types) (Fossitt, 2000). However, little is known about their floristic composition and the changes in floristic composition over time. The current knowledge on grassland vegetation is mostly based on a survey of Irish grasslands by Dr. Austin O’Sullivan completed in the 1960’s and 1970’s (O’Sullivan, 1982). In this survey O’Sullivan identified Irish grassland types in accordance with the classification of continental European grasslands based on the principles of the School of Phytosociology. O’Sullivan distinguished five main grassland types introducing agricultural criteria as well as floristic criteria into grassland classification (O’Sullivan, 1982). In 1978, O’Sullivan made an attempt at mapping Ireland’s vegetation types including the five grassland types distinguished in his later publication as well as two types of peatland vegetation (Figures 1 and 2). This map was completed using 1960’s soils maps (National Soil Survey, Teagasc, Johnstown Castle) and a subsample of the dataset on the composition of Irish grasslands. Phytosociological classification of vegetation is based on the full floristic composition of the vegetation as determined by assessing the abundance and spatial structure of the plant species in a given area. The actual area of the survey (or relevé) is determined according to strict criteria, which include how representative the sample area is for the wider vegetation (i.e. how many of the species found in the wider area are also present in the survey area).