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Which Traits Allow Weed Species to Persist in Grass Margin Strips?

  • Stéphane Cordeau (a1), Matthew R. Ryan (a2), David A. Bohan (a3), Xavier Reboud (a3) and Bruno Chauvel (a3)...


Sown-grass margin strips, historically established to limit pesticide drift and soil erosion, are now also promoted for enhancing floral diversity and associated ecosystem services. To better understand weed community assembly in grass margin strips, we performed floral surveys in 75 sown-grass margin strips in two regions in France and characterized each species using information from trait databases. We hypothesized that traits of dominant species would differ between newly sown-grass margin strips and older strips. Weed species were separated into functional groups based on their traits using multiple correspondence analysis and hierarchical ascendant classification. Functional group trajectories were investigated in sown-grass margin strips that differed in age using a space-for-time substitution approach. We found that geophyte, competitor, and monocotyledon species were more frequent and abundant in grass margin strips than therophyte, ruderal, and dicotyledon species. Results also showed that floral diversity was greatest in grass margin strips of intermediate age. Our findings have implications for optimizing diversity and ecosystem services on land enrolled in conservation programs and suggest that mowing later in the season and periodic soil disturbance can increase floral diversity. The analytical framework that we introduced in this research can also be used to explore weed community assembly in other systems.


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Associate Editor for this paper: Bhagirath Chauhan, The University of Queensland



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