Post-dispersal probability of germination and establishment on the shorelines of slow-flowing or stagnant water bodies
Article first published online: 21 NOV 2011
© 2011 International Association for Vegetation Science
Journal of Vegetation Science
Volume 23, Issue 3, pages 517–525, June 2012
How to Cite
Sarneel, J. M., Soons, M. B. (2012), Post-dispersal probability of germination and establishment on the shorelines of slow-flowing or stagnant water bodies. Journal of Vegetation Science, 23: 517–525. doi: 10.1111/j.1654-1103.2011.01367.x
- Issue published online: 20 APR 2012
- Article first published online: 21 NOV 2011
- Manuscript Accepted: 17 OCT 2011
- Manuscript Received: 6 APR 2011
- Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research
- riparian vegetation;
In Dutch fens, species that colonize open water and induce the formation of floating peat mats have become rare. Many such riparian pioneer species occur predominantly on shorelines sheltered from the wind, whereas the majority of seeds tend to be deposited on exposed shorelines, as seeds are dispersed via wind-driven waves and currents. Do differences in germination and seedling survival between sheltered and exposed shorelines explain this difference?
The fen reserve ‘De Westbroekse zodden’ (52 °10′ N; 5 °07′ E)
With a sowing experiment, the germination, seedling survival and overall recruitment of Berula erecta, Calla palustris, Comarum palustre, Glyceria maxima and Mentha aquatica were studied on sheltered and wind-exposed banks in eight fen ponds. Temperature, light availability, water level, wave impact, litter and seed deposition and vegetation height were recorded over 16 wk. The probability of washing away was quantified with small seed mimics. With a greenhouse experiment, we separately examined the effects of environmental differences between sheltered and exposed banks.
In the field, compared to sheltered shorelines, exposed shorelines had a higher wave impact, higher light availability in spring and more litter and seeds deposited on them. In the greenhouse experiment, only litter addition decreased germination. This effect was overridden in the field, where the higher light availability on exposed banks increased germination. In the field, the number of seedlings decreased strongly over time, and eventual recruitment was determined by the degree to which seeds and seedlings were washed away by wave action. The probability of being washed away was highest on exposed shorelines (where waves were larger), which resulted in higher recruitment on sheltered shorelines.
The recruitment of colonizing species to fen pond shorelines is limited by the probability that seeds and seedlings may be washed into the open water. This process can eventually cause more successful recruitment on upwind or lee-side shorelines despite lower seed inputs there.