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Weeds and endangered herbs have unforeseen dispersal helpers in the agri-environment: gastropods and earthworms

  • Manfred Türke (a1), Tamara Blattmann (a2), Eva Knop (a2), Anne Kindermann (a1), Julia Prestele (a3) (a4), Leonardo Marquez (a5), Nico Eisenhauer (a1) and Christina Fischer (a6)...

Agri-environmental schemes involving organic farming or set-aside management aim at promoting biodiversity and restoring ecosystem functioning in agrarian landscapes. Application of pesticides in these crop fields is strongly regulated facilitating the spread of weeds but also allowing for the establishment of endangered herbs and a variety of animals. Recent studies found gastropods and earthworms to be legitimate dispersers of seeds of wild plants. We assumed that both groups also play a significant role in the spread and establishment of wild plants within crop fields. Therefore, we are conducting a series of experiments in three different study systems on (1) the role of earthworms and gastropods as dispersers of rare herbs and weeds in an organic rye field in Germany, (2) the seed feeding behavior of gastropods of plants sown in fallow ground in Switzerland, and (3) weed dispersal in irrigated rice fields by golden apple snails in the Philippines.

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2Batary, P., Andras, B., Kleijn, D., and Tscharntke, T. 2011. Landscape-moderated biodiversity effects of agri-environmental management: a meta-analysis. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 278:18941902.
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5Türke, M., Andreas, K., Gossner, M.M., Kowalski, E., Lange, M., Boch, S., Socher, S.A., Müller, J., Prati, D., Fischer, M., Meyhöfer, R., and Weisser, W.W. 2012. Are gastropods, rather than ants, important dispersers of seeds of myrmecochorous forest herbs? American Naturalist 179:124131.
6Forey, E., Barot, S., Decaens, T., Langlois, E., Laossi, K.-R., Margerie, P., Scheu, S., and Eisenhauer, N. 2011. Importance of earthworm–seed interactions for the composition and structure of plant communities: a review. Acta Oecologica–International Journal of Ecology 37:594603.
7Fischer, C., Thies, C., and Tscharntke, T. 2011. Mixed effects of landscape complexity and farming practice on weed seed removal. Perspectives in Plant Ecology Evolution and Systematics 13:297303.
8Kollmann, J. and Bassin, S. 2001. Effects of management on seed predation in wildflower strips in northern Switzerland. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 83:285296.
9Joshi, R.C. and Sebastian, L.S. (eds). 2006. Global Advances in Ecology and Management of Golden Apple Snails. Philippine Rice Research Institute, Munoz, Philippines.
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Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
  • ISSN: 1742-1705
  • EISSN: 1742-1713
  • URL: /core/journals/renewable-agriculture-and-food-systems
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