• emergence;
  • gap size;
  • restoration and management;
  • seedling establishment;
  • slug predation;
  • sward height;
  • Trollius europaeus

Abstract To determine the effects of sward height and gap size on the emergence and subsequent development of Trollius europaeus, seeds were introduced into artificially created gaps in mown and unmown wet meadow grassland in Ayr, Scotland. Emergence and establishment of nondormant seed (previously leached in running tap water and soaked in gibberellic acid) placed in a range of circular gaps (25 mm, 50 mm with and without root barrier, 100 and 200 mm diameter) were monitored over 305 days. Trollius demonstrated high field emergence (mean, 46% of viable seed sown) in this experiment. Emergence was not significantly affected by either sward height or gap size, although emergence was greater in mown swards. The critical factor determining subsequent survival of seedlings was slug predation rather than sward height or gap size. However, losses due to slug predation were significantly greater in unmown swards, resulting in more seedlings in mown swards. One hundred eleven days after sowing (September) seedling numbers had declined substantially in both unmown and mown swards, and by day 305 (April) seedlings were extinct in both sward types. The implications of the research for the restoration and management of T. europaeus are discussed.