Abstract. Vegetation changes in a wet dune slack complex have been studied over a period of 23 yr. The vegetation was recorded in 40 permanent plots: all plots in 1964, 1977, 1983 and 1987 and some also in five other years. There were large fluctuations in annual precipitation during this period, including some extremely dry (1976) and wet (1985) years.
Many species of wet calcareous and pioneer habitats declined in cover between 1964 and 1977, when there were prolonged dry summer periods, though few species were lost from the sampled quadrats.
Practically all calciphilous and pioneer species disappeared between 1977 and 1983, when there were relatively many wet summers. It is suggested that extremely dry conditions temporarily obscure the impacts of hydrological changes in local hydrological systems, by retarding the vegetation succession. After a period of excessive precipitation the (acidifying) effects of ground-water withdrawal rapidly became evident in the species composition of the dune slack.