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16 May 2008 Relationships between soil seed bank, vegetation and soil fertility along an urbanisation gradient
Vincent Pellissier, Françoise Rozé, Rahim Aguejdad, Hervé Quénol, Philippe Clergeau
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Questions: How does urbanisation influence soil mineral nitrogen stocks (nitrate and ammonium stocks) and what are the consequences of these modifications on the functional diversity of the herbaceous vegetation (vascular plants) and the seed bank?

Location: Nine study sites were located on an urbanisation gradient in the city of Rennes, France.

Methods: Three urbanisation levels were defined: urban areas (high grey/green ratio,), suburban (medium grey/green ratio) and periurban (low grey/green ratio). For each urbanisation level, nitrates and ammonium stocks were quantified; the herbaceous vegetation was surveyed as well as the soil seed bank (using the seedling emergence method).

Results: Nitrate concentration increased with urbanisation (the nitrate level in urban plots was twice the concentration in periurban ones) whereas the ammonium level was higher in periurban areas than in urban areas. In urban plots, the vegetation and the seed bank were more nitrophilous, whereas the nitrogen requirement was lower for periurban species. The relationship between the seed bank and the above-ground vegetation was not significant.

Conclusions: The higher nitrate concentration in the urban area appeared to be related to higher concentrations of atmospheric pollutants found in this area and lower ammonium levels may be related to the higher temperature in urban areas (leading to higher nitrification rates). The shift in the composition of the seed bank and vegetation appeared to be a consequence of higher nitrate stocks. The dissimilarity between the seed bank and vegetation may be caused by enhanced emergence of nitrophilous species in urban areas.

Nomenclature: Flora Europaea (Tutin et al. 1964–1980).

Vincent Pellissier, Françoise Rozé, Rahim Aguejdad, Hervé Quénol, and Philippe Clergeau "Relationships between soil seed bank, vegetation and soil fertility along an urbanisation gradient," Applied Vegetation Science 11(3), 325-334, (16 May 2008).
Received: 6 December 2005; Accepted: 1 December 2007; Published: 16 May 2008

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Above-ground vegetation
Below-ground vegetation
Ellenberg fertility index
Nitrogen stock
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