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Keywords:

  • calcareous grassland;
  • grasshopper;
  • restoration;
  • species reintroduction;
  • species richness;
  • target species;
  • vegetation

Abstract

The transfer of seed-containing hay is a restoration measure for the introduction of plant species of local provenance. We investigated the effect of hay transfer on species richness and on long-term establishment of target plant and grasshopper species on former arable fields with and without topsoil removal in comparison to reference sites in a nature reserve. Plant species richness, the number of target plant species, and Red List plant species were significantly positively affected by hay transfer, both on the scale of whole restoration fields and on permanent plots of 4 m2. Eight years after the start of the restoration, only few of the transferred plant species had disappeared and some target species were newly found. Grasshoppers were affected not by hay transfer but by topsoil removal. The proportion of target grasshopper and plant species and Red List grasshopper species was higher on topsoil removal sites with low standing crop and high cover of bare soil than on sites without soil removal. On topsoil removal sites without hay, however, plant species richness was very low because of the slow natural dispersal of the target species. Vegetation and grasshopper communities still differed between restoration fields and the nature reserve. Nevertheless, our results indicate that the transfer of autochthonous seed-containing hay is a successful method to establish species-rich grasslands with a high proportion of target species.