1. bookVolume 14 (2015): Issue 1 (June 2015)
Journal Details
First Published
10 Jul 2007
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
access type Open Access

Semi-Dry Grassland Restoration in the Se Alpine Foreland of Austria – A Study of Early Spontaneous Colonisation Patterns

Published Online: 27 Aug 2015
Volume & Issue: Volume 14 (2015) - Issue 1 (June 2015)
Page range: 97 - 112
Received: 30 Apr 2014
Accepted: 18 Nov 2014
Journal Details
First Published
10 Jul 2007
Publication timeframe
2 times per year

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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