Question: Does transplantation of small blocks of turfs contribute to restoration of species-rich meadows on fallow land? What is the role of vegetative spread and seedling establishment of meadow plants in the neighbourhood of the transplanted turfs?
Location: Bílé Karpaty Mountains, SE Czech Republic.
Methods: Twenty-five meadow blocks, 0.4 m × 0.4 m in size, were transplanted to fallow land (unfertile and dry) and species composition was monitored in the source area, in the transferred turfs and in their neighbourhood for 3 yr. Multivariate analyses were used to assess successional trends.
Results: The transferred meadow blocks served as a source of diaspores for the seed-limited fallow land. Out of 80 transplanted species 17 species spread to adjacent plots within 3 yr. The frequency of plants expanding from the transferred turfs, either vegetatively or by seeds, was relatively low and from 2002 to 2004 a total of 22 species declined in the transferred turfs before expanding to the neighbourhood. Successional trends in species composition of the plots adjacent to the transferred blocks were strongly significant compared with the vegetation of the source area despite the short-term data used for the evaluation. The role of the seed bank in restoration was negligible.
Conclusions: In infertile and dry environments, transplanted turfs may significantly speed up restoration, especially if natural sources of target plant seeds are not available in the neighbourhood. However, the restoration process is long-term and not all transferred plants can be expected to establish in the fallow land.