Inflow of seeds through the forest edge: evidence from seed bank and vegetation patterns Article Received: 04 July 2003 Accepted: 29 January 2004 DOI:
Cite this article as: Devlaeminck, R., Bossuyt, B. & Hermy, M. Plant Ecol (2005) 176: 1. doi:10.1007/s11258-004-0008-2 Abstract
To determine the influence of the proximity of a forest edge on seed bank composition and diversity, we performed a seed bank sampling at ancient deciduous forests bordering intensive arable fields. Also vegetation patterns were taken into account. We hypothised that forest edges may facilitate the entrance of diaspores of invasive species into the forest and the successive incorporation of these species in the forest seed bank. We noticed a substantial influence of the proximity of an edge on seed bank composition at as well the forested side of the edge as the field side. The forest edge zone was limited to 3 m into the forest and the field edge zone extended 3m into the field. The seed bank samples of field and forest edge are characterised by a higher species diversity and seed density and a higher similarity between seed bank and vegetation, compared to field or forest samples. The forest edges contains fewer pioneer species in comparison with the forest interior and more competitive species and species of edges and clearings compared with field and forest samples. The seed longevity index increases towards the forest interior. We can conclude from our data that the forest and edge seed bank are composed by both seeds from recent dispersal processes and local seed set and by seeds originating from past vegetation on the site. Near the edge, actual seed input seems of primal importance. Further towards the forest interior seed input decreases and long-living seeds of past vegetation become more important. Ancient forest edges thus act as a barrier for seeds of species of the surrounding arable field.
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