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Restorative removal of plant litter and vegetation 40 years after abandonment enhances re-emergence of steppe grassland vegetation

Domenii publicaţii > Biologie + Tipuri publicaţii > Articol în revistã ştiinţificã

Autori: Ruprecht, E., Enyedi, M.Z., Eckstein, R.L., Donath, T.W.

Editorial: Elsevier, Biological Conservation, 143, p.449-456, 2010.


The accumulation of biomass and of dead plant remains is a direct consequence of grassland abandonment. Litter can occupy potential microsites for seed germination and seedling establishment, and thus decrease species diversity in the long-term. This effect can be more accentuated in dry grassland of open structure where species are adapted to excessive light and bare surfaces during the recruitment phase. We conducted a field experiment with litter removal alone or in combination with vegetation cutting and studied germination and seedling survival during 2 years in two abandoned steppe sites. With our experimental treatments we intended to create microsites and to activate the seed bank, with the aim to enhance recruitment of dry-grassland species; potentially also those already absent from the established vegetation. Our results show, that while both treatments significantly increased recruitment by enhancing seed germination in the first year of the study, only litter removal combined with vegetation cutting significantly promoted seedling survival during both years. Our experiment demonstrated that even after 40 years of abandonment the applied measures favoured the re-emergence of target species that were very rare or absent from the above-ground vegetation of continental steppe-like grassland. Thus, management prescriptions which comprise removal of dead and even living biomass, such as mowing or grazing, are considered beneficial for this habitat type of high nature conservation priority.

Cuvinte cheie: Germination, Microsite limitation, Regeneration, Seed bank, Seedling survival, Stipa grassland