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The seedbanks of the Breckland heaths and heath grasslands, eastern England, and their relationship to the vegetation and the effects of management

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The vegetation and the associated germinable seedbank of a range of heath and grass heath communities in Breckland, eastern England, were compared. The composition of vegetation and seedbank were similar for heather-dominated communities due to the predominance of Calluna vulgaris. Recent rotovation of previously heather-dominated communities invaded by Deschampsia flexuosa reduced the number of emerging C. vulgaris seedlings by more than 80%. The composition of seedbanks of calcicolous grasslands differed considerably from the vegetation, with a significant contribution from many ruderal species not present in the vegetation and an absence of important species such as Pilosella officinarum. Acidic grasslands were intermediate between calcicolous grasslands and heather-dominated heathlands, with seedbanks characterized by high densities of Rumex acetosella and a number of ruderal species that were absent or rare in the vegetation. The composition of the seedbank of more mesotrophic grasslands suggests that the imposition of some form of disturbance may recreate more open grasslands typical of Breckland.

Keywords: Breckland; England; Seedbanks; disturbance; grass heath; lowland heath; management

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: Ecological Processes Section, NERC Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Monks Wood, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE17 2LS, U.K., 2: Department of Life Sciences, The Nottingham Trent University, Clifton Lane, Nottingham, NG11 8NS, U.K.

Publication date: 1997-01-01

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