Absence of Recruitment Limitation in Restored Dune Slacks Suggests That Manual Seed Introduction Can Be a Successful Practice for Restoring Orchid Populations


Address correspondence to K. De hert, e-mail koen.dehert@bio.kuleuven.be


Answering the question whether or not to introduce seeds of target species in restored habitats depends on the relative importance of dispersal and recruitment limitation. Especially in orchid species, recruitment limitation is expected to be important because of their dependence on mycorrhiza for germination. Using a large seed introduction experiment we investigated the relative importance of dispersal versus recruitment limitation in the failure of three rare orchid species to colonize restored habitat patches. For all species, seeds developed successfully into protocorms in both occupied and unoccupied habitats, and no significant differences in the number of protocorms per seed packet were found between occupied and unoccupied habitats. These results show that orchid species do not necessarily suffer from recruitment limitation when introduced in restored habitats, and that manual introduction of orchid seeds can be a successful and necessary ecological restoration practice.