Plant colonization of ex-arable fields from adjacent species-rich grasslands: the importance of dispersal vs. recruitment ability
2009 (English)In: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, ISSN 0167-8809, E-ISSN 1873-2305, Vol. 130, no 3-4, 93-99 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Species-rich semi-natural grasslands have declined drastically in Europe over the last century and occur in modern landscapes as small and isolated fragments. Recreation of these species-rich plant communities and increasing connectivity of remaining grasslands are important goals for nature conservation. Ex-arable fields located adjacent to species-rich grasslands have been suggested as targets for such recreation, but we still lack knowledge about the processes determining colonization from grasslands to ex-arable fields. We examined transects from species-rich semi-natural grasslands to ex-arable fields in a nature reserve located in southeast Sweden, and analysed relationships between observed colonization of ex-arable fields and two characteristics of species: dispersal ability and recruitment ability. Colonization of ex-arable fields was not related to dispersal ability, assessed as adhesive potential to animal coat, wind dispersal potential and seed mass (related to seed production), but was positively related to recruitment ability, assessed by sowing experiment. The same relationships appeared when using a performance index from sowing experiments conducted in the UK. We conclude that recruitment ability is a key factor for colonization of ex-arable fields. In our study, around 50% of semi-natural grassland species were able to colonize adjacent ex-arable field margins spontaneously within a time window of less than 50 years. Seed sowing is however needed to increase the speed of the colonization process, because increasing seed density promotes colonization of species with poor recruitment in ex-arable fields. Actions to increase area and connectivity of species-rich grasslands should consider incorporating ex-arable fields.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 130, no 3-4, 93-99 p.
Research subject Plant Ecology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-33164DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2008.12.005ISI: 000264677100003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-33164DiVA: diva2:282481