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Factors determining species richness of soil seed banks in lowland ancient woodlands

Erenler, H. E.; Ashton, P.; Gillman, M. P. and Ollerton, J. (2010). Factors determining species richness of soil seed banks in lowland ancient woodlands. Biodiversity and Conservation, 19(6) pp. 1631–1648.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10531-010-9793-1
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Abstract

The demise of coppicing in UK ancient woodlands, combined with the planting of non-native, fast-growing conifers in the twentieth century, heightens the potential recharge value of ground flora seed banks. Soil cores from adjoining semi-natural and conifer-containing stands in four lowland ancient woods in central England were removed to establish seed bank species richness. During a fourteen-month germination trial soil from two depths yielded 6554 seedlings from 81 species, ten of which showed a strong affinity for ancient woodland conditions. Juncus effusus accounted for 80% of emergent seeds whilst 23 other species, including Lysimachia nummularia and Potentilla sterilis, were represented by only one individual. Species richness is described by a model that explains 40% of observed variance (P < 0.00001). The model has three significant variables: species richness increases as soil pH rises, and decreases with both depth and increasing time since the most recent planting/disturbance event. No difference was found in the density of seeds from species common to paired semi-natural and conifer-containing stands that were separated only by a woodland ride, suggesting prior management and environmental conditions have a greater influence on seed banks than current stand type. Sørensen similarity index values revealed poor congruence between above-ground vegetation and species in the seed bank. Taking pH measurements in conifer stands identified as younger in terms of planting/disturbance may help locate areas where greater numbers of species (including woodland specialists) are located. Caution is required, however, as these seed banks may also contain non-target, competitive species that may swamp the regeneration of woodland specialists.

Item Type: Journal Article
Copyright Holders: 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
ISSN: 1572-9710
Keywords: ancient wood; ancient forest; soil seed bank; species richness; pH; conifer plantations; Sørensen; GLM
Academic Unit/Department: Science > Environment, Earth and Ecosystems
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: OpenSpace Research Centre (OSRC)
Item ID: 24655
Depositing User: Michael Gillman
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2010 14:45
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2012 15:17
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/24655
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