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Dispersal and microsite limitation in floodplain grassland restoration

Abstract : Intensive management has resulted in a loss of plant diversity in European floodplain grasslands. In particular, species adapted to traditional land use have largely declined or disappeared. Restoration approaches based on the conversion to traditional management systems often fail to re-establish these characteristic floodplain species (target species). We tested dispersal and microsite limitations in three studies on grassland restoration and succession in east German river valleys. In a long-term transect study, the migration of target species from source communities (reference grassland) into restoration grassland was analyzed over a period of ten years that began nine years after conversion to traditional management. A transplant experiment was set up to examine dispersal distances and vectors. Microsite limitation was tested by comparing seedling emergence in three soil disturbance treatments (deep tillage, shallow tillage, and control). The transect analysis revealed a slow migration of target species into restoration sites, reaching approximately 30 to 45 m within 19 years of restoration. Similarity indices between restoration grasslands and adjacent reference communities did not significantly increase during the ten years of observation. In the transplant study, seedlings were concentrated close to the mother plants, and dispersal distances did not exceed 3 to 4 m. The strong dispersal limitation was confirmed by an analysis of seedling survival showing no differences between restoration and reference grasslands. In the undisturbed control plots, seedling emergence following seed addition by hay transfer or hand sowing was lower than 0.03%. The soil disturbance treatments significantly increased recruitment, and the highest seedling numbers were observed in the deep tillage treatment, indicating microsite limitation. The results suggest that the dense sward of floodplain grasslands represents a second strong environmental filter hampering grassland succession. In conclusion, the successful restoration of floodplain grasslands requires a combination of soil disturbance and seed transfer if source populations are not available in very close vicinity.
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Submitted on : Friday, September 7, 2012 - 3:52:01 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, April 6, 2022 - 4:08:07 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-00729691, version 1


Armin Bischoff, Guido Warthemann. Dispersal and microsite limitation in floodplain grassland restoration. 54th symposium international association vegetation science, Jun 2010, Avignon (FR), Germany. ⟨hal-00729691⟩



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