Semi-dry grass land restoration in the SE Alpine foreland of Austria – a study of early spontaneous colonisa tion patterns

  • Philipp SENGL Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Graz, Holteigasse 6, 8010 Graz, Austria.
  • Viktoria WAGNER Department of Botany and Zoology, Masaryk University, Kotlářská 2, 611 37 Brno, Czech Republic
  • Martin MAGNES Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Graz, Holteigasse 6, 8010 Graz, Austria.
Keywords: colonisation success, ecological strategy, Festuco-Brometea, plant trait, secondary succession, Styria.

Abstract

We investigated early spontaneous colonisation patterns during semi-dry grassland restoration at two sites in SE Austria. The sites were left to regenerate passively without addition of plant propagules on a former arable field and an apple orchard. The sites were prepared only by ploughing (arable field) or clear cutting (apple orchard) and subsequently mowed annually. We studied whether, four years after project initiation, target species from adjacent semi-dry grasslands had established at the restored sites. We asked: 1) Does passive restoration lead to the establishment of target species? 2) Do abiotic parameters or distance to reference sites explain early colonisation patterns? 3) Do plant traits predict the colonisation success of different species? At each site, we collected data in 4 m × 4 m plots, in which we sampled the vegetation, analysed abiotic parameters (soil potassium- and phosphorus-content, soil-pH, slope) and recorded the minimum distance to the reference site. We tested for correlations between abiotic variables, plant traits and colonisation success. Colonisation patterns were not driven by abiotic soil conditions but rather by nearest distance to the reference sites. In addition, the vegetation developed differently in the former arable field and the apple orchard. Competitive species of the Arrhenatherion and thermophilic ruderal associations dominated the early restoration stage at both sites. Passive restoration of semi-dry grasslands on former agricultural land is unlikely to succeed unless complemented by initial ploughing, nutrient stripping and addition of propagules of rare species.

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Published
2015-08-21
How to Cite
SENGLP., WAGNERV. and MAGNESM. (2015) “Semi-dry grass land restoration in the SE Alpine foreland of Austria – a study of early spontaneous colonisa tion patterns”, Hacquetia, 14(1). Available at: https://ojs.zrc-sazu.si/hacquetia/article/view/2807 (Accessed: 12August2020).
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