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Short-term and long-term variation in seed bank/vegetation relations along an environmental and successional gradient

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The seed bank along a successional and environmental gradient was analysed. Soil was collected in 3-cm thick horizons from permanent plots along two transects across a land uplift seashore, spanning several centuries of succession from shoreline to mature forest. Vegetation in the plots was recorded when the soil was sampled and also 9 and 15 yr before that. Within- and between-plot effects on seed bank/vegetation relationships were analysed using estimates of seed longevity, Sørensen's similarity index and mean Ellenberg indicator values.

A seed bank longevity index was constructed by using the database by Thompson et al. (1997. The soil seed banks of north west Europe. Methodology, density and longevity. – Cambridge Univ. Press), for all species with more than one entry in the database. For species with one or no entry, an internal index was constructed. The two indices were correlated and it was suggested that the internal index should be used where the Thompson database is insufficient.

There were small differences between the upper three soil horizons in seed density, in similarity with the vegetation and in mean Ellenberg values. The highest seed densities and seed bank/vegetation similarities were found at the shoreline, after that the density and the similarity decreased with increasing successional age, with the mature forest having very low seed density and similarity values. Weighted mean Ellenberg indicator values for light, nitrogen, salt and moisture differed between vegetation and seed bank. For the seed bank, the mean Ellenberg values for light, moisture and nitrogen and weighted mean of seed bank longevity indices showed a trend along one of the transects.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2001

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