Spontaneous succession in limestone quarries as an effective restoration tool for endangered arthropods and plants

Authors

  • Robert Tropek,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Ecology and Conservation, Institute of Entomology, Biology Centre, Czech Academy of Sciences, Branisovska 31, CZ-370 05 Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic
    2. Departments of Zoology and Botany, Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, Branisovska 31, CZ-370 05 Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic
      *Correspondence author. E-mail: robert.tropek@gmail.com
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  • Tomas Kadlec,

    1. Department of Ecology, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Vinicna 7, CZ-128 43 Prague, Czech Republic
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  • Petra Karesova,

    1. Departments of Zoology and Botany, Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, Branisovska 31, CZ-370 05 Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic
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  • Lukas Spitzer,

    1. Department of Ecology and Conservation, Institute of Entomology, Biology Centre, Czech Academy of Sciences, Branisovska 31, CZ-370 05 Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic
    2. Departments of Zoology and Botany, Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, Branisovska 31, CZ-370 05 Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic
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  • Petr Kocarek,

    1. Department of Biology and Ecology, Faculty of Science, University of Ostrava, Chittussiho 10, CZ-710 00 Ostrava, Czech Republic
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  • Igor Malenovsky,

    1. Department of Entomology, Moravian Museum, Hviezdoslavova 29a, CZ-627 00 Brno, Czech Republic
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  • Petr Banar,

    1. Department of Entomology, Moravian Museum, Hviezdoslavova 29a, CZ-627 00 Brno, Czech Republic
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  • Ivan H. Tuf,

    1. Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, Palacky University, Svobody 26, CZ-772 00 Olomouc, Czech Republic
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  • Martin Hejda,

    1. Department of Ecology, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Vinicna 7, CZ-128 43 Prague, Czech Republic
    2. Department of Invasion Ecology, Institute of Botany, Czech Academy of Sciences, CZ-252 43 Pruhonice, Czech Republic
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  • Martin Konvicka

    1. Department of Ecology and Conservation, Institute of Entomology, Biology Centre, Czech Academy of Sciences, Branisovska 31, CZ-370 05 Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic
    2. Departments of Zoology and Botany, Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, Branisovska 31, CZ-370 05 Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic
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*Correspondence author. E-mail: robert.tropek@gmail.com

Summary

1. The view of post-mining sites is rapidly changing among ecologists and conservationists, as sensitive restoration using spontaneous succession may turn such sites into biodiversity refuges in human-exploited regions. However, technical reclamation, consisting of covering the sites by topsoil, sowing fast-growing herb mixtures and planting trees, is still commonly adopted. Until now, no multi-taxa study has compared technically reclaimed sites and sites left with spontaneous succession.

2. We sampled communities of vascular plants and 10 arthropod groups in technically reclaimed and spontaneously restored plots in limestone quarries in the Bohemian Karst, Czech Republic. For comparison, we used paired t-tests and multivariate methods, emphasizing red-list status and habitat specialization of individual species.

3. We recorded 692 species of target taxa, with a high proportion of red-listed (10%) and xeric specialist (14%) species, corroborating the great conservation potential of the quarries.

4. Spontaneously restored post-mining sites did not differ in species richness from the technical reclaimed sites but they supported more rare species. The microhabitat cover of leaf litter, herbs and moss, were all directly influenced by the addition of topsoil during reclamation.

5.Synthesis and applications. Our results show that the high conservation potential of limestone quarries could be realized by allowing succession to progress spontaneously with minimal intervention. Given the threat to semi-natural sparsely vegetated habitats in many regions, active restoration measures at post-mining sites should be limited to maintenance of early successional stages, instead of acceleration of succession.

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