(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 trefoil
. Calcareous grassland is an important habitat for insects, particularly butterflies
, and is kept at a plagioclimax
by grazing animals
, usually rabbits
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.
The 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).
- 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.
- Smith, C.J. (1980). The Ecology of the English Chalk. Academic Press, London.