Contribution of the soil seed bank to the restoration of temperate grasslands by mechanical sward disturbance

Klaus, Valentin H.; Hoever, Christina J.; Fischer, Markus; Hamer, Ute; Kleinebecker, Till; Mertens, Désirée; Schäfer, Deborah; Prati, Daniel; Hölzel, Norbert (2018). Contribution of the soil seed bank to the restoration of temperate grasslands by mechanical sward disturbance. Restoration ecology, 26, S114-S122. Blackwell 10.1111/rec.12626

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The restoration of grasslands is one of the primary targets of nature conservation. An easy tool to stimulate the growth of plant species currently absent from the aboveground vegetation but hidden in the “dark”, is to make use of the soil seed bank. Here, seeds of rare and endangered species may still be present. However, the potential contribution of soil seed banks to effective grasslands restoration still remains unclear, as some but not many valuable species built up a persistent seed bank. To evaluate the potential of the soil seed bank for grassland restoration, we installed an experiment in 73 differently managed grasslands in Germany, where the seed bank was activated by mechanical sward disturbance. We also determined the species richness, the density of viable seeds, and the functional composition of seed banks and monitored the regeneration of the aboveground vegetation over two seasons. Our results show that sward disturbance led to an activation of the soil seed banks, which, however, contributed only little to the revegetation after sward disturbance. In addition, the severe impoverishment of the soil seed bank indicated a restricted potential for the restoration of temperate grasslands. Nevertheless, the activation of the soil seed bank increased not only the richness of arable weeds but also slightly the richness of typical grassland species. We conclude that only in recently improved and strongly species-impoverished grasslands, sward disturbance alone might be able to slightly increase plant species richness. To achieve a distinct increase in species richness, additional diaspore transfer is needed.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Ecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Fischer, Markus; Schäfer, Deborah and Prati, Daniel

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

1061-2971

Publisher:

Blackwell

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

12 Dec 2017 16:33

Last Modified:

10 Jul 2018 07:07

Publisher DOI:

10.1111/rec.12626

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.107070

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/107070

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