Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-nr4z6 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-20T22:06:33.929Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

The germination niches of grassland species targeted for restoration: effects of seed pre-treatments

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 February 2011

Markus Wagner*
Affiliation:
NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology Wallingford, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, OX10 8BB, UK
Richard F. Pywell
Affiliation:
NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology Wallingford, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, OX10 8BB, UK
Tatjana Knopp
Affiliation:
NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology Wallingford, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, OX10 8BB, UK
James M. Bullock
Affiliation:
NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology Wallingford, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, OX10 8BB, UK
Matthew S. Heard
Affiliation:
NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology Wallingford, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, OX10 8BB, UK
*
*Correspondence Email: mwagner@ceh.ac.uk

Abstract

Restoration of semi-natural grassland communities involves a combination of (1) sward disturbance to create a temporal window for establishment, and (2) target species introduction, the latter usually by seed sowing. With great regularity, particular species establish only poorly. More reliable establishment could improve outcome of restoration projects and increase cost-effectiveness. We investigated the abiotic germination niche of ten poorly establishing calcareous grassland species by simultaneously exploring the effects of moisture and light availability and temperature fluctuation on percentage germination and speed of germination. We also investigated the effects of three different pre-treatments used to enhance seed germination – cold-stratification, osmotic priming and priming in combination with gibberellic acid (GA3) – and how these affected abiotic germination niches. Species varied markedly in width of abiotic germination niche, ranging from Carex flacca with very strict abiotic requirements, to several species reliably germinating across the whole range of abiotic conditions. Our results suggest pronounced differences between species in gap requirements for establishment. Germination was improved in most species by at least one pre-treatment. Evidence for positive effects of adding GA3 to seed priming solutions was limited. In several species, pre-treated seeds germinated under a wider range of abiotic conditions than untreated seeds. Improved knowledge of species-specific germination niches and the effects of seed pre-treatments may help to improve species establishment by sowing, and to identify species for which sowing at a later stage of restoration or introduction as small plants may represent a more viable strategy.

Type
Research Papers
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Adegbuyi, E., Cooper, S.R. and Don, R. (1981) Osmotic priming of some herbage grass seed using polyethylene glycol (PEG). Seed Science and Technology 9, 867878.Google Scholar
Angevine, M.W. and Chabot, B.F. (1979) Seed germination syndromes in higher plants. pp. 188206 in Solbrig, O.T.; Jain, S.; Johnson, G.B.; Raven, P.H. (Eds) Topics in plant population biology. New York, Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
Bakker, J.P. (1989) Nature management by grazing and cutting. Dordrecht, Kluwer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Barbaro, L., Dutoit, T. and Cozic, P. (2001) A six-year experimental restoration of biodiversity by shrub-clearing and grazing in calcareous grasslands of the French Prealps. Biodiversity and Conservation 10, 119135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Baskin, C.C. and Baskin, J.M. (1998) Seeds: Ecology, biogeography, and evolution of dormancy and germination. San Diego, Academic Press.Google Scholar
Bossuyt, B., Butaye, J. and Honnay, O. (2006) Seed bank composition of open and overgrown calcareous grassland soils – a case study from Southern Belgium. Journal of Environmental Management 79, 364371.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Braithwaite, M.E., Ellis, R.W. and Preston, C.D. (2006) Change in the British flora 1987–2004. London, Botanical Society of the British Isles.Google Scholar
Bruno, J.F., Stachowicz, J.J. and Bertness, M.D. (2003) Inclusion of facilitation into ecological theory. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18, 119125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bruun, H.H. (2000) Patterns of species richness in dry grassland patches in an agricultural landscape. Ecography 23, 641650.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bullock, J.M. (2000) Gaps and seedling colonization. pp. 375395 in Fenner, M. (Ed.) Seeds: The ecology of regeneration in plant communities (2nd edition). Wallingford, CABI Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cavers, P.B., Qaderi, M.M., Manku, R. and Downs, M.P. (2000) Intermittent germination: causes and ecological implications. pp. 363374 in Black, M.; Bradford, K.J.; Vázquez-Ramos, J. (Eds) Seed biology: Advances and applications. Wallingford, CABI Publishing.Google Scholar
Crawley, M.J. (2005) Statistics: An introduction using R. Chichester, Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Davies, A. and Waite, S. (1998) The persistence of calcareous grassland species in the soil seed bank under developing and established scrub. Plant Ecology 136, 2739.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Davies, A., Dunnett, N.P. and Kendle, T. (1999) The importance of transplant size and gap width in the botanical enrichment of species-poor grasslands in Britain. Restoration Ecology 7, 271280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Edwards, A.R., Mortimer, S.R., Lawson, C.S., Westbury, D.B., Harris, S.J., Woodcock, B.A. and Brown, V.K. (2007) Hay strewing, brush harvesting of seed and soil disturbance as tools for the enhancement of botanical diversity in grasslands. Biological Conservation 134, 372382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Emorsgate Seeds (2010) Succisa pratensis – Devil's-bit scabious. http://wildseed.co.uk/species/view/137 (accessed on 20 May 2010).Google Scholar
Evans, C.E. and Etherington, J.R. (1990) The effect of soil water potential on seed germination of some British plants. New Phytologist 115, 539548.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Fagan, K.C., Pywell, R.F., Bullock, J.M. and Marrs, R.H. (2008) Do restored calcareous grasslands on former arable fields resemble ancient targets? The effect of time, methods and environment on outcomes. Journal of Applied Ecology 45, 12931303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fagan, K.C., Pywell, R.F., Bullock, J.M. and Marrs, R.H. (2010) The seed banks of English lowland calcareous grasslands along a restoration chronosequence. Plant Ecology 208, 199211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fenner, M. (1978) A comparison of the abilities of colonizers and closed-turf species to establish from seed in artificial swards. Journal of Ecology 66, 953963.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Finch-Savage, W.E. (1991) Development of bulk priming/plant growth regulator seed treatments and their effect on the seedling establishment of four bedding plant species. Seed Science and Technology 19, 477485.Google Scholar
Finch-Savage, W.E., Gray, D. and Dickson, G.M. (1991) Germination responses of seven bedding plant species to environmental conditions and gibberellic acid. Seed Science and Technology 19, 487494.Google Scholar
Fischer, M. and Stöcklin, J. (1997) Local extinctions of plants in remnants of extensively used calcareous grasslands 1950–1985. Conservation Biology 11, 727737.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Flemion, F. and Henrickson, E.T. (1949) Further studies on the occurrence of embryoless seeds and immature embryos in the Umbelliferae. Contributions from Boyce Thompson Institute 15, 291297.Google Scholar
Galatowitsch, S. (2008) Seedling establishment in restored ecosystems. pp. 352370 in Leck, M.A.; Parker, V.T.; Simpson, R.L. (Eds) Seedling ecology and evolution. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gibson-Roy, P., Delpratt, J. and Moore, G. (2007) Restoring the Victorian Western (Basalt) Plains grassland. 1. Laboratory trials of viability and germination, and the implications for direct seeding. Ecological Management and Restoration 8, 114122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Grime, J.P., Mason, G., Curtis, A.V., Rodman, J., Band, S.R., Mowforth, M.A.G., Neal, A.M. and Shaw, S. (1981) A comparative study of germination characteristics in a local flora. Journal of Ecology 69, 10171059.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Grime, J.P., Hodgson, J.G. and Hunt, R. (2007) Comparative plant ecology: A functional approach to common British species. Dalbeattie, Castlepoint Press.Google Scholar
Grubb, P.J. (1977) The maintenance of species-richness in plant communities: the importance of the regeneration niche. Biological Reviews 52, 107145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gustafson, D.J., Gibson, D.J. and Nickrent, D.L. (2004) Competitive relationships of Andropogon gerardii (Big Bluestem) from remnant and restored native populations and selected cultivars. Functional Ecology 18, 451457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Halmer, P. (2004) Methods to improve seed performance in the field. pp. 125166 in Benech-Arnold, R.L.; Sánchez, R.A. (Eds) Handbook of seed physiology – applications to agriculture. Binghamton, Haworth Press.Google Scholar
Hardegree, S.P. and Emmerich, W.E. (1990) Effect of polyethylene glycol exclusion on the water potential of solution-saturated filter paper. Plant Physiology 92, 462466.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hedberg, P. and Kotowski, W. (2010) New nature by sowing? The current state of species introduction in grassland restoration, and the road ahead. Journal for Nature Conservation 18, 304308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Helm, A., Hanski, I. and Pärtel, M. (2006) Slow response of plant species richness to habitat loss and fragmentation. Ecology Letters 9, 7277.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hillier, S.H., Walton, D.W.H. and Wells, D.A. (1990) Calcareous grasslands: Ecology and management. Bluntisham, Bluntisham Books.Google Scholar
Hitchmough, J., Paraskevopoulou, A. and Dunnett, N. (2008) Influence of grass suppression and sowing rate on the establishment and persistence of forb dominated urban meadows. Urban Ecosystems 11, 3344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hobbs, R.J. and Norton, D.A. (2004) Ecological filters, thresholds, and gradients in resistance to ecosystem reassembly. pp. 7295 in Temperton, V.M.; Hobbs, R.J.; Nuttle, T.; Halle, S. (Eds) Assembly rules and restoration ecology: Bridging the gap between theory and practice. Washington, Island Press.Google Scholar
Hodgson, J.G. (1989) Selecting and managing plant materials used in habitat construction. pp. 4567 in Buckley, G.P. (Ed.) Biological habitat reconstruction. London, Belhaven.Google Scholar
Hofmann, M. and Isselstein, J. (2004) Seedling recruitment on agriculturally improved mesic grassland: the influence of disturbance and management schemes. Applied Vegetation Science 7, 193200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hölzel, N. and Otte, A. (2003) Restoration of a species-rich flood meadow by topsoil removal and diaspore transfer with plant material. Applied Vegetation Science 6, 131140.Google Scholar
Isselstein, J., Tallowin, J.R.B. and Smith, R.E.N. (2002) Factors affecting seed germination and seedling establishment of fen-meadow species. Restoration Ecology 10, 173184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kahmen, S. and Poschlod, P. (2008) Does germination success differ with respect to seed mass and germination season? Experimental testing of plant functional trait responses to grassland management. Annals of Botany 101, 541548.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kotorová, I. and Lepš, J. (1999) Comparative ecology of seedling recruitment in an oligotrophic wet meadow. Journal of Vegetation Science 10, 175186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Liu, K., Eastwood, R.J., Flynn, S., Turner, R.M. and Stuppy, W.H. (2008) Seed Information Database (release 7.1, May 2008). Available at http://www.kew.org/data/sid (accessed on 22 February 2010).Google Scholar
Maas, D. (1989) Germination characteristics of some plant species from calcareous fens in southern Germany and their implications for the seed bank. Holarctic Ecology 12, 337344.Google Scholar
Manchester, S.J., McNally, S., Treweek, J.R., Sparks, T.H. and Mountford, J.O. (1999) The cost and practicality of techniques for the reversion of arable land to lowland wet grassland – an experimental study and review. Journal of Environmental Management 55, 91109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Michel, B.E. and Radcliffe, D. (1995) A computer program relating solute potential to solution composition for five solutes. Agronomy Journal 87, 126130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Olff, H., Pegtel, D.M., van Groenendael, J.M. and Bakker, J.P. (1994) Germination strategies during grassland succession. Journal of Ecology 82, 6977.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Partzsch, M. (2008) Welchen Einfluss haben Temperatur und Azidität der Bodenlösung auf die Keimungsbiologie ausgewählter xerothermer Graslandarten? Hercynia N.F. 41, 239252.Google Scholar
Patzelt, A., Wild, U. and Pfadenhauer, J. (2001) Restoration of wet fen meadows by topsoil removal: vegetation development and germination biology of fen species. Restoration Ecology 9, 127136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pigott, C.D. (1955) Thymus L. Journal of Ecology 43, 365387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pywell, R.F., Bullock, J.M., Hopkins, A., Walker, K.J., Sparks, T.H., Burke, M.J.W. and Peel, S. (2002) Restoration of species-rich grassland on arable land: assessing the limiting processes using a multi-site experiment. Journal of Applied Ecology 39, 294309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pywell, R.F., Bullock, J.M., Roy, D.B., Warman, L., Walker, K.J. and Rothery, P. (2003) Plant traits as predictors of performance in ecological restoration. Journal of Applied Ecology 40, 6577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pywell, R.F., Bullock, J.M., Tallowin, J.B., Walker, K.J., Warman, E.A. and Masters, G. (2007) Enhancing diversity of species-poor grasslands: an experimental assessment of multiple constraints. Journal of Applied Ecology 44, 8194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
R Development Core Team (2009) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna, R Foundation for Statistical Computing.Google Scholar
Reckinger, C., Colling, G. and Matthies, D. (2010) Restoring populations of the endangered plant Scorzonera humilis: influence of site conditions, seed source, and plant stage. Restoration Ecology 18, 904913.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rodwell, D.S. (1992) British plant communities, Vol. 3. Grasslands and montane communities. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Rogis, C., Gibson, L.R., Knapp, A.D. and Horton, R. (2004) Can solid matrix priming with GA3 break seed dormancy in eastern gamagrass? Journal of Range Management 57, 656660.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ryser, P. (1993) Influences of neighbouring plants on seedling establishment in limestone grassland. Journal of Vegetation Science 4, 195202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schütz, W. (2000) The importance of seed regeneration strategies for the persistence of species in the changing landscape of Central Europe. Zeitschrift für Ökologie und Naturschutz 9, 7383.Google Scholar
Schütz, W. and Rave, G. (1999) The effect of cold stratification and light on the seed germination of temperate sedges (Carex) from various habitats and implications for regenerative strategies. Plant Ecology 144, 215230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Silvertown, J. (1980) Leaf-canopy-induced seed dormancy in a grassland flora. New Phytologist 85, 109118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Silvertown, J. and Tremlett, M. (1989) Interactive effects of disturbance and shade upon colonization of grassland: an experiment with Anthriscus sylvestris (L.) Hoffm., Conium maculatum L., Daucus carota L., and Heracleum sphondylium L. Functional Ecology 3, 229235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stace, C. (1997) New flora of the British Isles (2nd edition). Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Stampfli, A. and Zeiter, M. (1999) Plant species decline due to abandonment of meadows cannot easily be reversed by mowing. A case study from the southern Alps. Journal of Vegetation Science 10, 151164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stampfli, A. and Zeiter, M. (2008) Mechanisms of structural change derived from patterns of seedling emergence and mortality in a semi-natural meadow. Journal of Vegetation Science 19, 563574.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tallowin, J.R.B., Rook, A.J. and Brookman, S.K.E. (1994) The effects of osmotic pre-sowing treatment on laboratory germination in a range of wild flower species. Annals of Applied Biology 124, 363370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Taylor, F.J. (1956) Carex flacca Schreb. Journal of Ecology 44, 281290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Thanos, C.A., Georghiou, K., Kadis, C. and Pantazi, C. (1992) Cistaceae: a plant family with hard seeds. Israel Journal of Botany 41, 251263.Google Scholar
Thompson, K. and Grime, J.P. (1983) A comparative study of germination responses to diurnally-fluctuating temperatures. Journal of Applied Ecology 20, 141156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Thompson, K., Hillier, S.H., Grime, J.P., Bossard, C.C. and Band, S.R. (1996) A functional analysis of a limestone grassland community. Journal of Vegetation Science 7, 371380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
UK Biodiversity Group (1998) UK Biodiversity Group Tranche 2 Action Plans – Volume II: Terrestrial and freshwater habitats. Peterborough, English Nature.Google Scholar
Wagner, M. (2004) The roles of seed dispersal ability and seedling salt tolerance in community assembly of a severely degraded site. pp. 266284 in Temperton, V.M.; Hobbs, R.J.; Nuttle, T.; Halle, S. (Eds) Assembly rules and restoration ecology: Bridging the gap between theory and practice. Washington, Island Press.Google Scholar
Walker, K.J., Stevens, P.A., Stevens, D.P., Mountford, J.O., Manchester, S.J. and Pywell, R.F. (2004) The restoration and re-creation of species-rich lowland grassland on land formerly managed for intensive agriculture in the UK. Biological Conservation 119, 118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wallin, L., Svensson, B.M. and Lönn, M. (2009) Artificial dispersal as a restoration tool in meadows: sowing or planting? Restoration Ecology 17, 270279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
WallisDeVries, M.F., Poschlod, P. and Willems, J.H. (2002) Challenges for the conservation of calcareous grasslands in northwestern Europe: integrating the requirements of flora and fauna. Biological Conservation 104, 265273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Washitani, I. and Masuda, M. (1990) A comparative study of the germination characteristics of seeds from a moist tall grassland community. Functional Ecology 4, 543557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wells, T.C.E., Cox, R. and Frost, A. (1989) Diversifying grasslands by introducing seed and transplants into existing vegetation. pp. 283298 in Buckley, G.P. (Ed.) Biological habitat reconstruction. London, Belhaven.Google Scholar