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Vegetation development in dune slacks: the role of persistent seed banks

By R.M. Bekker, E.J. Lammerts, A. Schutter and A.P. Grootjans


The soil seed bank composition was determined at four sites in the dune slack ‘Koegelwieck’ on the Dutch Wadden Sea island of Terschelling. At three different sites in the slack, where sod-cutting experiments down to the mineral sand had been carried out, the established vegetation and seed bank were assessed after 5, 9 and 39 yr of undisturbed development, respectively. In addition, a fourth site in the slack was investigated, where vegetation development had proceeded for 80 yr since plant colonization of bare soil and where nowadays a vegetation dominated by Calamagrostis epigejos and Salix repens occurs. Together these four sites can be regarded as a chronosequence of dune slack formation. Clear time sequences were detected in the seed bank data. Many late successional species showed a significant increase in the number of seeds during the succession. Some of the early successional basiphilous pioneer species such as Anagallis minima, Centaurium littorale, Littorella uniflora, Radiola linoides and Samolus valerandi, showed either a decrease during the time of succession or an optimum in the vegetation while remaining present in the seed bank in low but detectable numbers. They could, therefore, play a role in re-establishment of the vegetation after sod-cutting. One of the target species, Schoenus nigricans, established within a few years after removal of the sod. However, no seeds of this species have been detected in the soil below either of the successional stages. Based on the species disappearance from the established vegetation and based on independent data, an estimation of seed longevity could be made for several Red List species of wet dune slacks.

Year: 1999
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