Restoring grassland biodiversity: Sowing low-diversity seed mixtures can lead to rapid favourable changes

Péter Török, Balázs Deák, Eniko Vida, Orsolya Valkó, S. Lengyel, B. Tóthmérész

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

69 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We studied the effect of sowing low-diversity seed mixtures (containing 2-3 competitive grass species) on the regeneration of vegetation on croplands previously used as alfalfa fields. In four permanent plots in 10 restored fields (four with alkali and six with loess seed mixture) the cover of flowering plants was recorded and phytomass was measured between 2006 and 2008. We asked three questions: (i) How fast will weedy, short-lived species decrease in abundance during secondary succession enhanced by sowing low-diversity seed mixtures? (ii) Can weeds be suppressed by sowing competitive native grasses, followed up by management by mowing? (iii) Can succession towards the target native grasslands be accelerated by sowing only low-diversity seed mixtures compared to set-aside old field succession? Our results showed that in just two years a vegetation dominated by perennial grasses has developed, which successfully prevented the establishment of weed species. These results suggested that sowing seeds of two or three competitive grass species is an effective tool to eliminate weed domination and to lead towards the restoration of species poor grasslands with grass domination such as alkali grasslands. However, the developed dense perennial grass cover and the accumulated litter may hamper the immigration of specialist species characteristic to reference grasslands. Therefore, the restoration of species-rich grasslands requires the facilitation of the immigration of grassland specialist species by further management (grazing, mowing and/or hay-transport).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)806-812
Number of pages7
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume143
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010

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seed mixtures
sowing
grasslands
grassland
biodiversity
grasses
seed
grass
weeds
mowing
weed
alkalis
immigration
vegetation
grazing management
loess
phytomass
secondary succession
set-aside
hay

Keywords

  • Habitat restoration
  • Old field succession
  • Phytomass production
  • Short-grass steppe
  • Species richness
  • Tall-grass prairie

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

Cite this

Restoring grassland biodiversity : Sowing low-diversity seed mixtures can lead to rapid favourable changes. / Török, Péter; Deák, Balázs; Vida, Eniko; Valkó, Orsolya; Lengyel, S.; Tóthmérész, B.

In: Biological Conservation, Vol. 143, No. 3, 03.2010, p. 806-812.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Török, Péter ; Deák, Balázs ; Vida, Eniko ; Valkó, Orsolya ; Lengyel, S. ; Tóthmérész, B. / Restoring grassland biodiversity : Sowing low-diversity seed mixtures can lead to rapid favourable changes. In: Biological Conservation. 2010 ; Vol. 143, No. 3. pp. 806-812.
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