Long-term changes in the abundance of invasive alien plant species during the restoration of Pannonic sand steppes

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Nóra Sáradi , Bruna Paolinelli Reis , Yesenia Belén Llumiquinga , Katalin Szitár , Edina Csákvári , Anna Kövendi-Jakó , Katalin Török , Halassy Melinda

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Land use change and invasive neophytes cause much of the biodiversity loss in terrestrial ecosystems. Habitat restoration aims to counteract the former and control the latter, but restorative interactions themselves cause disturbance and invasive plants may be the first to colonize disturbed sites. Neophytes can alter ecosystem functions with their effects persisting even after removal, making restoration more difficult. We evaluated the changes in the abundance of invasive species in five long-term datasets related to sand grassland restoration in the e Kiskunság and the Nyírség, Hungary. The experiments included mowing, microbiological nitrogen immobilization and seeding as main treatments. We identified all neophyte species and analyzed the long-term trends in neophyte cover at the species level and for annual and perennial species depending on time and treatments. We found that initial chemical treatment and mowing was effective in targeting woody neophyte species, but other neophytes could colonize and spread to the treated plots. Carbon amendment had little effect on neophytes. Seeding significantly reduced their abundance compared to other treatments. We also found a decrease in annual species and a gradual increase of perennial neophyte species irrespective of treatments. We conclude that direct restoration methods focusing on one species at a time can successfully control target species, but can inadvertently promote the spread of other neophytes. We also conclude that seeding is the best method to control the spread of invasive species in sand grassland restoration.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

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