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Can soil seed banks contribute to the restoration of dune slacks under conservation management?

By Katharina Plassmann, Nigel Brown, M. Laurence M. Jones and Gareth Edwards-Jones

Abstract

Questions: Does the soil seed bank resemble the former early successional stages of a dune slack system more than the established later successional vegetation? Does it have the potential to contribute to the conservation of a highly endangered habitat?\ud \ud Location: Dune slacks at Newborough Warren, UK.\ud \ud Methods: The composition of the soil seed bank in two depth layers was determined using the seedling emergence method between March 2004 and April 2005. Long-term monitoring data on the floristic composition of the established vegetation were obtained from the national conservation agency, and additional monitoring was undertaken in 2003. Floristic composition, seed weights, seed longevity of component species and Ellenberg indicator values were used to compare the seed bank and established vegetation.\ud \ud Results: The soil seed bank was diverse and contained typical dune slack species, species of early successional stages and species of conservation interest. A comparison between the composition of the seed bank and historical data on the composition of the established vegetation showed that the seed bank reflects earlier successional stages more closely than the current aboveground vegetation. This study increases the scarce information currently available on the seed bank ecology of several species, including two orchid species.\ud \ud Conclusions: The soil seed bank can be expected to contribute to vegetation change after disturbance. Stimulation of germination from the seed bank through management may contribute to the conservation of both characteristic and threatened species typical of dune slacks.\ud \u

Topics: Botany, Ecology and Environment
Publisher: Wiley
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1111/j.1654-109X.2009.01014.x
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:6894
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