Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 1631–1648

Factors determining species richness of soil seed banks in lowland ancient woodlands

  • Hilary E. Erenler
  • Paul A. Ashton
  • Michael P. Gillman
  • Jeff Ollerton
Original Paper

Abstract

The demise of coppicing in UK ancient woodlands, combined with the planting of non-native, fast-growing conifers in the twentieth century, heightens the potential recharge value of ground flora seed banks. Soil cores from adjoining semi-natural and conifer-containing stands in four lowland ancient woods in central England were removed to establish seed bank species richness. During a fourteen-month germination trial soil from two depths yielded 6554 seedlings from 81 species, ten of which showed a strong affinity for ancient woodland conditions. Juncus effusus accounted for 80% of emergent seeds whilst 23 other species, including Lysimachia nummularia and Potentilla sterilis, were represented by only one individual. Species richness is described by a model that explains 40% of observed variance (P < 0.00001). The model has three significant variables: species richness increases as soil pH rises, and decreases with both depth and increasing time since the most recent planting/disturbance event. No difference was found in the density of seeds from species common to paired semi-natural and conifer-containing stands that were separated only by a woodland ride, suggesting prior management and environmental conditions have a greater influence on seed banks than current stand type. Sørensen similarity index values revealed poor congruence between above-ground vegetation and species in the seed bank. Taking pH measurements in conifer stands identified as younger in terms of planting/disturbance may help locate areas where greater numbers of species (including woodland specialists) are located. Caution is required, however, as these seed banks may also contain non-target, competitive species that may swamp the regeneration of woodland specialists.

Keywords

Ancient wood Ancient forest Soil seed bank Species richness pH Conifer plantations Sørensen GLM 

Abbreviations

ASNW

Ancient semi-natural woodlands

PAWS

Plantations on ancient woodland sites

AWIS

Ancient woodland indicator species

GLM

General linear model

References

  1. Augusto L, Dupouey J-L, Picard J-F et al (2001) Potential contribution of the seed bank in coniferous plantations to the restoration of native deciduous forest vegetation. Acta Oecol 22:87–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baeten L, Jacquemyn H, Van Calster H et al (2009) Low recruitment across life stages partly accounts for the slow colonisation of forest herbs. J Ecol 97:109–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bekker RM, Verweij GL, Smith REN et al (1997) Soil seed banks in European grasslands: does land use affect regeneration perspectives? J Appl Ecol 34:1293–1310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Biodiversity: The UK Steering Group Report (1995) Volume 1: Meeting the Rio Challenge, HMSOGoogle Scholar
  5. Blamey M, Grey Wilson C (1989) The illustrated flora of Britain and northern Europe. Hodder and Stoughton, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Blamey M, Fitter R, Fitter A (2003) Wild flowers of Britain and Ireland. A & C Black Publishers Ltd, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Bossuyt B, Hermy M (2001) Influence of land use history on seed banks in European temperate forest ecosystems: a review. Ecography 24:225–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bossuyt B, Honnay O (2008) Can the seed bank be used for ecological restoration? An overview of seed bank characteristics in European communities. J Veg Sci 19:875–884CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bossuyt B, Hermy M, Deckers J (1999) Migration of herbaceous plant species across ancient-recent forest ecotones in central Belgium. J Ecol 87:628–638CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bossuyt B, Heyn M, Hermy M (2002) Seed bank and vegetation composition of forest stands of varying age in central Belgium: consequences for regeneration of ancient forest vegetation. Plant Ecol 162:33–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brown AHF, Oosterhuis L (1981) The role of buried seed in coppice woods. Biol Conserv 21:19–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bruelheide H, Udelhoven P (2005) Correspondence of the fine-scale spatial variation in soil chemistry and the herb layer vegetation in beech forests. For Ecol Manage 210:205–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. De Keersmaeker L, Martens L, Verheyen K et al (2004) Impact of soil fertility and insolation on diversity of herbaceous woodland species colonizing afforestations in Muizen Forest (Belgium). For Ecol Manage 188:291–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Decocq G, Valentin B, Toussaint B et al (2004) Soil seed bank composition and diversity in a managed temperate deciduous forest. Biodivers Conserv 13:2485–2509CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Devlaeminck R, Bossuyt B, Hermy M (2005) Inflow of seeds through the forest edge: evidence from seed bank and vegetation patterns. Plant Ecol 176:1–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dostal P, Breznova M, Kozlickova V et al (2005) Ant-induced soil modification and its effect on plant below-ground biomass. Pedobiologia 49:127–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dougall TAG, Dodd JC (1997) A study of species richness and diversity in seed banks and its use for the environmental mitigation of a proposed holiday village development in a coniferized woodland in south east England. Biodivers Conserv 6:1413–1428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dzwonko Z (2001) Migration of vascular species to a recent wood adjoining ancient woodland. Acta Soc Bot Pol 70:71–77Google Scholar
  19. Dzwonko Z, Loster S (1992) Species richness and seed dispersal to secondary woods in southern Poland. J Biogeogr 19:195–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. EU Council Habitats Directive (1992) The conservation of natural habitats and of wild flora and fauna (92/42/EEC) http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31992L0043:EN:NOT. Accessed 6 Aug 2009
  21. Eycott AE, Watkinson AR, Dolman PM (2006a) Ecological patterns of plant diversity in a plantation forest managed by clearfelling. J Appl Ecol 43:1160–1171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Eycott AE, Watkinson AR, Dolman PM (2006b) The soil seedbank of a lowland conifer forest: the impacts of clear-fell management and implications for heathland restoration. For Ecol Manage 237:280–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Falinska K (1999) Seed bank dynamics in abandoned meadows during a 20-Year period in the Bialowieza National Park. J Ecol 87:461–475CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Forestry Commission (1985a) Management guidelines for broadleaved woodland. Forestry Commission, EdinburghGoogle Scholar
  25. Forestry Commission (1985b) The policy for broadleaved woodland. Forestry Commission, EdinburghGoogle Scholar
  26. Forestry Commission (2004) The UK Forestry Standard (Revised Edition). http://www.forestry.gov.uk/PDF/fcfc001.pdf/$FILE/fcfc001.pdf. Accessed 15 Aug 2009
  27. Forestry Commission (2005). Keepers of time: a statement of policy for England’s ancient and native woodland http://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/anw-policy.pdf/$FILE/anw-policy.pdf. Accessed 15 Aug 2009
  28. Forestry Commission, Northants Forest District, Top Lodge, Fineshade, Nr Corby, Northants, NN17 3BBGoogle Scholar
  29. Godefroid S, Phartyal SS, Koedam N (2006) Depth distribution and composition of seed banks under different tree layers in a managed temperate forest ecosystem. Acta Oecol 29:283–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Greatorex-Davies JN, Sparks TH, Hall ML et al (1993) The influence of shade on butterflies in rides of coniferised lowland woods in southern England and implications for conservation management. Biol Conserv 63:31–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Grime JP (1974) Vegetation classification by reference to strategies. Nature 250:26–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Grime JP, Hodgson JG, Hunt R (2007) Comparative plant ecology—a functional approach to common British species, 2nd edn. Castlepoint Press, KirkcudbrightshireGoogle Scholar
  33. Hermy M, Verheyen K (2007) Legacies of the past in the present-day forest biodiversity: a review of past land-use effects on forest plant species composition and diversity. Ecol Res 22:361–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hermy M, Honnay O, Firbank L et al (1999) An ecological comparison between ancient and other forest plant species of Europe, and the implications for forest conservation. Biol Conserv 91:9–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hill MO, Stevens PA (1981) The density of viable seed in soils of forest plantations in upland Britain. J Ecol 69:693–709CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Jermy AC, Simpson DA, Foley MJY et al (2007) Sedges of the British Isles BSBI Handbook No. 1 (3rd edition). Botanical Society of the British Isles, LondonGoogle Scholar
  37. Kipfer T, Bosshard A (2007) Low seed bank of herb species suitable for grazing hampers the establishment of wood pastures in the Swiss lowlands. Bot Helv 117:159–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kirby KJ (1988) Changes in the ground flora under plantations on ancient woodland sites. Forestry 61(4):317–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kjellsson G (1992) Seed banks in Danish deciduous forests: species composition, seed influx and distribution pattern in soil. Ecography 15:86–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lewis J (1973) Longevity of crop and weed seeds after 20 years in soil. Weed Res 13:179–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. MAGIC (2009) Multi-agency geographic information for the countryside—web-based environmental interactive map. http://www.magic.gov.uk/website/magic/. Accessed 15 Aug 2009
  42. Magurran AE (2004) Measuring biological diversity. Blackwell Publishing, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  43. McCollin D, Jackson JI, Bunce RGH et al (2000) Hedgerows as habitat for woodland plants. J Environ Manage 60:77–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Natural England (2006) Ancient woodland; Guidance material for local authorities (AWG1) http://naturalengland.etraderstores.com/NaturalEnglandShop/Product.aspx?ProductID=9782c3a2-dcb5-4aca-b36d-5e3d6eff1103. Accessed 9 Aug 2009
  45. Olano JM, Caballero I, Laskurain NA et al (2002) Seed bank spatial pattern in a temperate secondary forest. J Veg Sci 13:775–784CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Ordnance Survey (1969) Geological survey of Great Britain (England and Wales): solid and drift Map Sheet 202. Institute of Geological Sciences, SouthamptonGoogle Scholar
  47. Ovington (1953) Studies of the development of woodland conditions under different trees. I. Soils pH. J Ecol 41:13–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Peterken GF (1974) A method for assessing woodland flora for conservation using indicator species. Biol Conserv 6:239–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Peterken GF (1976) Long-term changes in woodlands of Rockingham forest and other areas. J Ecol 64:123–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Peterken GF (2001) Ecological effects of introduced tree species in Britain. For Ecol Manage 141:31–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Pryor SN, Smith S (2002) The area and composition of plantations on ancient woodland sites. The Woodland Trust, GranthamGoogle Scholar
  52. Pryor SN, Curtis TA, Peterken GF (2002) Restoring plantations on ancient woodland sites. The Woodland Trust. www.woodland-trust.org.uk/policy/publicationsindex.htm. Accessed 21 Aug 2009
  53. Rackham O (1980) Ancient woodland—its history, vegetation and uses in England. Edward Arnold, LondonGoogle Scholar
  54. Rackham O (2006) Woodlands. Collins, LondonGoogle Scholar
  55. Rees M (1997) Seed dormancy. In: Crawley MJ (ed) Plant ecology. Blackwell Science Ltd, Oxford, pp 214–238Google Scholar
  56. Roovers P, Bossuyt B, Igodt B et al (2006) May seed banks contribute to vegetation restoration on paths in temperate deciduous forest? Plant Ecol 187:25–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Salisbury EJ (1976) Seed output and the efficacy of dispersal by wind. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 192:323–329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Spencer JW, Kirby KJ (1992) An inventory of ancient woodland for England and Wales. Biol Conserv 62:77–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Staaf H (1987) Foliage litter turnover and earthworm populations in three beech forests of contrasting soil and vegetation types. Oecol 72:58–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Stace C (1997) New flora of the British Isles, 2nd edn. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  61. StatSoft Inc. Statistica, Release 8. http://www.statsoft.com/. Accessed 6 Aug 2009
  62. Templeton AR, Levin DA (1979) Evolutionary consequences of seed pools. Am Nat 114:232–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Thompson K, Bakker J, Bekker R (1997) The soil seed bank of North West Europe; methodology, density and longevity. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  64. UNCED (1992) Convention on Biological Diversity, Rio de Janeiro http://www.un.org/documents/ga/conf151/aconf15126-1annex1.htm. Accessed 6 Aug 2009
  65. Warr SJ, Kent M, Thompson K (1994) Seed bank composition and variability in five woodlands in South-West England. J Biogeogr 21:151–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Willems JH, Huijsmans KGA (1994) Vertical seed dispersal by earthworms: a quantitative approach. Ecography 17:124–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Wilsden LW (1915) Plumpton. Hand typed document in Northampton Central library (Local History)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hilary E. Erenler
    • 1
  • Paul A. Ashton
    • 2
  • Michael P. Gillman
    • 3
  • Jeff Ollerton
    • 1
  1. 1.Landscape and Biodiversity Research Group, School of Science and TechnologyThe University of NorthamptonNorthamptonUK
  2. 2.Edge Hill UniversityLancashireUK
  3. 3.The Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK

Personalised recommendations