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1 May 2006 Effects of the litter layer of Pteridium aquilinum on seed banks under experimental restoration
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Questions: Does the litter layer of Pteridium aquilinum (bracken) act as a barrier to certain species in the seed bank? Does bracken control/restoration treatment affect seed transfer through the litter layer?

Location: Five experiments at three sites across the UK covering two major vegetation types; acid-grassland and heath-land.

Methods: At each experiment a range of bracken control and vegetation restoration treatments were applied for about ten years. The seed bank was sampled in both the bracken litter and the soil. The cover (%) of each species in the vegetation and the bracken litter abundance (cover and depth) was also estimated.

Results: The bracken litter layer acts as an inert barrier as it contained a large proportion of seeds available in the litter-soil profile (38% - 67% of the total). Bracken litter depth and cover also influenced significantly the seed bank composition in both the bracken litter and the soil. These effects were site-specific, and species-specific. The application of treatments changed significantly the balance between seed inputs and outputs in the bracken litter layer for some species. This was either a positive or negative response relative to the untreated control plots.

Conclusion: For heathland and acid-grassland restoration, the bracken litter layer may be an important seed source, but it must be disturbed particularly before seed addition.

Abbreviation: RDA = Redundancy Analysis.

Nomenclature: Stace (1997).

J. Ghorbani, M. G. Le Duc, H. A. McAllister, R. J. Pakeman, and R. H. Marrs "Effects of the litter layer of Pteridium aquilinum on seed banks under experimental restoration," Applied Vegetation Science 9(1), 127-136, (1 May 2006).[127:EOTLLO]2.0.CO;2
Received: 12 May 2005; Accepted: 21 November 2005; Published: 1 May 2006

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