Resilience of soil seed banks to site degradation in intermittently flooded riverine woodlands

David J. Eldridge, Ian Lunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Questions: 1) What is the recovery potential of soil seed banks of intact, average and degraded floodplain woodlands? 2) Will soil seed banks of different functional groups (native and exotic, dryland and wetland) display contrasting responses to site degradation? Location: Semi-arid, seasonally-flooded woodland of eastern Australia.Methods: Diversity, abundance and composition of soil seed banks were assessed using a glasshouse study. Surface soil samples were taken from a total of nine sites with three levels of degradation (intact, average, degraded) from three microsites (sub-canopy, canopy edge, open). Results: A total of 26,662 individuals from 82 species germinated. Seed abundance increased tenfold from intact to degraded sites, but there was no effect on richness. Species composition of all functional groups varied significantly among degradation states. Seeds of native wetland and exotic dryland species were more abundant in degraded than intact sites. However, the abundance of native dryland germinants did not differ among degradation classes and no seeds of exotic wetland species were observed. Richness of exotic dryland species was significantly greater in degraded sites.Conclusions: Increasing disturbance promoted seed banks of exotic but not native dryland species, and native, but not exotic, wetland species. Unexpectedly, disturbance promoted the abundance of native seeds more than exotics, though this was driven by a single species. Our results suggest that the dryland phase of the floodplain community is more resilient to degradation than predicted
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-166
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Vegetation Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010

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