Best served deep: The seedbank from salvaged topsoil underscores the role of the dispersal filter in restoration practice

Article


Waryszak, Pawel, Standish, Rachel J., Ladd, Philip G., Enright, Neal J., Brundrett, Mark and Fontaine, Joseph B.. 2021. "Best served deep: The seedbank from salvaged topsoil underscores the role of the dispersal filter in restoration practice." Applied Vegetation Science. 24 (1), p. e12539. https://doi.org/10.1111/avsc.12539
Article Title

Best served deep: The seedbank from salvaged topsoil underscores the role of the dispersal filter in restoration practice

ERA Journal ID2690
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsWaryszak, Pawel, Standish, Rachel J., Ladd, Philip G., Enright, Neal J., Brundrett, Mark and Fontaine, Joseph B.
Journal TitleApplied Vegetation Science
Journal Citation24 (1), p. e12539
Number of Pages13
Year2021
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
Place of PublicationUnited States
ISSN1402-2001
1654-109X
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1111/avsc.12539
Web Address (URL)https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/avsc.12539
Abstract

Questions
Globally, ecological restoration is required to restore degraded landscapes and to contribute to biodiversity conservation. Ecological theory suggests that manipulating dispersal, abiotic and biotic filters limiting plant re-establishment will improve restoration outcomes. Here, we manipulated spread depth of soil containing a salvaged soil seedbank (dispersal filter), soil compaction (abiotic filter) and herbivore grazing (biotic filter) in a topsoil transfer experiment to test their effects on restoration success.

Location
Banksia woodland of the Swan Coastal Plain, Western Australia.

Methods
Topsoil (upper ~7 cm) with its seedbank was removed from a donor site (20 ha) of recently cleared native vegetation and transferred to six recipient restoration sites (16 ha). Deep (10 cm thick) and shallow (5 cm thick) layers of topsoil were applied in a fully factorial experiment, with and without soil ripping and fencing, respectively. We analysed emergence, survival and functional types (alien/native, life form, fire response) of all vascular plant species for two consecutive years after topsoil transfer.

Results
The most successful restoration treatment was deep topsoil with a mean density of 14.3 m−2 native perennial germinants in year one and 7.3 m−2 in year two. Application of deep topsoil increased native seedling emergence by 34% and decreased weed density by 21% compared with shallow topsoil. Overall seedling survival across the two-year period was unaffected by filter treatments (range 0.6%–5%). After two years, the resulting plant community was 6%–38% weed species and of native perennial species, 12%–48% were capable of resprouting.

Conclusions
Manipulation of the dispersal filter alone, that is deep topsoil application, can lead to near-equivalent native species number emerging on restoration sites as compared to pre-cleared woodland. However, more research is required to test additional restoration tools to improve survival of biodiverse plant communities. For example, targeted herbicide application coupled with soil ripping to improve weed management and native seedling establishment.

KeywordsEnvironmental science; Banksia woodland; Soil Seedbank; Topsoil transfer; Mediterranean-type ecosystem; Biodiversity offset; Restoration ecology
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020410401. Conservation and biodiversity
410405. Environmental rehabilitation and restoration
410404. Environmental management
410406. Natural resource management
410407. Wildlife and habitat management
410402. Environmental assessment and monitoring
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Byline AffiliationsDeakin University
Murdoch University
University of Western Australia
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