Restoration potential of the persistent soil seed bank in successional calcareous (alvar) grasslands in Estonia
Version of Record online: 23 NOV 2011
© 2011 International Association for Vegetation Science
Applied Vegetation Science
Special Issue: Vegetation Restoration, Edited by Norbert Hölzel, Elise Buisson & Thierry Dutoit
Volume 15, Issue 2, pages 208–218, April 2012
How to Cite
Kalamees, R., Püssa, K., Zobel, K., Zobel, M. (2012), Restoration potential of the persistent soil seed bank in successional calcareous (alvar) grasslands in Estonia. Applied Vegetation Science, 15: 208–218. doi: 10.1111/j.1654-109X.2011.01169.x
- Issue online: 5 MAR 2012
- Version of Record online: 23 NOV 2011
- Manuscript Accepted: 13 OCT 2011
- Manuscript Received: 28 FEB 2011
- Estonian Science Foundation. Grant Number: 8039
- University of Tartu. Grant Number: 0119
- European Union through the European Regional Development Fund
- Grassland management;
- Limestone grassland;
- Optimal sampling time;
- Seed density;
- Seed mass;
- Semi-natural grassland;
- Species richness;
- Traditional management
What is the overall restoration potential of the persistent soil seed bank of abandoned alvar grassland sites? To what degree does the share of characteristic alvar grassland species in the soil seed bank change during secondary succession from traditionally managed pasture towards stages overgrown by Corylus avellana and Juniperus communis?
The species composition of above-ground vegetation and the persistent soil seed bank were investigated in successional alvar grasslands. Particular attention was given to typical grassland species in the persistent soil seed bank. Soil seed bank density was also recorded. General linear models and non-metric multidimensional scaling were used to assess successional trends and the restoration potential of the soil seed bank.
The cessation of traditional management has led to a considerable decline in above-ground plant species richness. The composition of above-ground vegetation in different successional stages was considerably more variable than that of the seed bank. We detected large and species-rich persistent soil seed banks in all our study sites. About 70% of species in the seed banks of overgrown sites could be classified as typical grassland species. The frequency of typical alvar grassland species, such as Arabis hirsuta, Arenaria serpyllifolia, Cerastium fontanum, Helianthemum nummularium, Poa angustifolia, Potentilla crantzii, Sedum acre and Veronica spicata in the seed bank of long-term abandoned (25 and 50 yr) sites was unexpectedly high.
Abandoned semi-natural grassland sites in northern Estonia still contain a relatively large grassland community species pool, including a large and effective soil seed bank. The soil seed bank could thus play a more important role in the restoration management of abandoned dry grassland communities than could be concluded from previous studies.