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Topsoil removal enhances plant target species occurrence in sandy calcareous grassland

Henriksson, Natalie D. ; Hydbom, Sofia LU ; Schmid, Barbara C. LU and Olsson, Pål Axel LU (2019) In Flora: Morphology, Distribution, Functional Ecology of Plants 256. p.7-15
Abstract

Species-rich sandy calcareous grasslands are threatened by land use change, eutrophication and acidification. Disturbance is vital for the persistence of characteristic sandy calcareous grassland species because it provides habitats with low competition, and can lead to increased pH and decreased nutrient availability, which favour many threatened species. Today many sandy calcareous grasslands lack a proper disturbance regime. The outcome of topsoil removal, applied as restoration measure, was investigated in a multi-site study. Successful restoration was associated with colonisation of plants representing conservation target species, as well as increased pH and reduced amounts of nutrients and organic matter. The impact of topsoil... (More)

Species-rich sandy calcareous grasslands are threatened by land use change, eutrophication and acidification. Disturbance is vital for the persistence of characteristic sandy calcareous grassland species because it provides habitats with low competition, and can lead to increased pH and decreased nutrient availability, which favour many threatened species. Today many sandy calcareous grasslands lack a proper disturbance regime. The outcome of topsoil removal, applied as restoration measure, was investigated in a multi-site study. Successful restoration was associated with colonisation of plants representing conservation target species, as well as increased pH and reduced amounts of nutrients and organic matter. The impact of topsoil removal on plant species composition and soil properties was examined, with adjacent degraded plots serving as controls. Non-degraded target vegetation was included as reference areas. Restored plots had a significantly higher mean proportion of target species compared to control plots. However, control plots had higher species richness. Topsoil removal increased the pH value and decreased contents of ammonium and organic matter in the newly established topsoil layer, while no effect was seen on nitrate, phosphate and lime. Restored plots had a high cover of bare sand, but in contrast to target plots, a rather low proportion of forbs in relation to graminoids. Control plots had a higher vegetation cover, mainly represented by graminoids, forbs and the dwarf shrub species Calluna vulgaris (L.) Hull. Our study suggests that topsoil removal is an effective restoration measure due to its positive influence on soil characteristics and target species. However, the degraded sandy grasslands that were chosen as controls in this study should also be recognised as important habitats with conservation values due to the high species richness, suggesting that a mosaic pattern of the different successional stages is desirable.

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; ; and
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Calcareous, Grassland restoration, Sandy grassland, Soil nutrients, Soil pH, Species diversity
in
Flora: Morphology, Distribution, Functional Ecology of Plants
volume
256
pages
9 pages
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • scopus:85064964409
ISSN
0367-2530
DOI
10.1016/j.flora.2019.03.014
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
b6d3fa09-fcd9-4a1c-89f8-85883965f3a6
date added to LUP
2019-05-13 12:31:37
date last changed
2020-01-13 01:45:38
@article{b6d3fa09-fcd9-4a1c-89f8-85883965f3a6,
  abstract     = {<p>Species-rich sandy calcareous grasslands are threatened by land use change, eutrophication and acidification. Disturbance is vital for the persistence of characteristic sandy calcareous grassland species because it provides habitats with low competition, and can lead to increased pH and decreased nutrient availability, which favour many threatened species. Today many sandy calcareous grasslands lack a proper disturbance regime. The outcome of topsoil removal, applied as restoration measure, was investigated in a multi-site study. Successful restoration was associated with colonisation of plants representing conservation target species, as well as increased pH and reduced amounts of nutrients and organic matter. The impact of topsoil removal on plant species composition and soil properties was examined, with adjacent degraded plots serving as controls. Non-degraded target vegetation was included as reference areas. Restored plots had a significantly higher mean proportion of target species compared to control plots. However, control plots had higher species richness. Topsoil removal increased the pH value and decreased contents of ammonium and organic matter in the newly established topsoil layer, while no effect was seen on nitrate, phosphate and lime. Restored plots had a high cover of bare sand, but in contrast to target plots, a rather low proportion of forbs in relation to graminoids. Control plots had a higher vegetation cover, mainly represented by graminoids, forbs and the dwarf shrub species Calluna vulgaris (L.) Hull. Our study suggests that topsoil removal is an effective restoration measure due to its positive influence on soil characteristics and target species. However, the degraded sandy grasslands that were chosen as controls in this study should also be recognised as important habitats with conservation values due to the high species richness, suggesting that a mosaic pattern of the different successional stages is desirable.</p>},
  author       = {Henriksson, Natalie D. and Hydbom, Sofia and Schmid, Barbara C. and Olsson, Pål Axel},
  issn         = {0367-2530},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {7--15},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {Flora: Morphology, Distribution, Functional Ecology of Plants},
  title        = {Topsoil removal enhances plant target species occurrence in sandy calcareous grassland},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.flora.2019.03.014},
  doi          = {10.1016/j.flora.2019.03.014},
  volume       = {256},
  year         = {2019},
}