Questions: What is the relative role of the bud bank, seed and various species traits in the regeneration of urban plant communities after severe disturbances? Do invasive and exotic species, highly abundant in disturbed communities, regenerate better than native species after disturbance?
Methods: Hand tilling was applied to three urban plant communities with and without additional herbicide treatment to exclude regeneration from the bud bank. Plant traits were determined from the literature and databases. Species responses to the treatments were evaluated with RDA analyses in CANOCO. Linear models were applied to identify traits that could predict the responses of species to disturbance.
Results: The bud bank played a key role in regeneration in the plots without herbicide. In the plots with herbicide treatment, the seed bank was important in re-establishing vegetation after disturbance. Exclusion of the bud bank by using herbicide allowed the establishment of small annuals, whereas biennials and perennials were successful in plots where the bud bank was not inhibited by herbicide. Exotic species with a long residence time in the local flora were successful in plots where regeneration from the bud bank was excluded, whereas species with short residence times or that were invasive were suppressed by both types of disturbance.
Conclusion: In response to various types of disturbance, species with different regeneration strategies (either seeds or bud bank) were promoted. Exotic species were suppressed primarily by disturbance, which suggests that factors other than just regenerative capability contributed to the high abundance of exotics in urban communities.