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Artificial Dispersal as a Restoration Tool in Meadows: Sowing or Planting?


Address correspondence to L. Wallin, email


Habitat fragmentation and the abandonment of former agricultural practices have led to extremely low dispersal rates for plant species growing in traditionally managed hay meadows in Sweden. Historically, seed dispersal between populations was maintained by hay movement, grazing animals, and farmers sharing their equipment. Because these means of dispersal typically are no longer occurring, artificial dispersal using seeds and plug-plants is tested here as a restoration tool. In this study, we chose two perennial herbs commonly occurring in meadows as test species, viz, Hypochoeris maculata L. (Asteraceae) and Succisa pratensis Moench. (Dipsacaceae). We found that plug-plant transplants were twice as effective as seed sowing for both species. The seed collection site was found to be important for seed-based establishment and survival; consequently, the choice of donor meadow is important when acquiring seeds used for restoration. We also found that survival of plants introduced as seeds was generally lower at sites harboring species favored by nitrogen as well as at sites in later successional phases. Both methods of introducing meadow species worked well, even though long-term establishment may well be more successful with the plug-plant method due to higher plug-plant establishment 2 years after introduction in the field.