Globally rare sandplain grassland and coastal heathland plant communities of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, merit high conservation priority because they support many rare and endangered species. Management (brush-cutting, grazing, and prescribed fire) has been effective in maintaining these communities, but less successful in transforming overgrown native scrub oak shrubland to diverse grassland. These scrub oak (Quercus ilicifolia Wangenh.) communities may lack a seed bank of grassland species in their soil. To examine this on Nantucket, we used the seedling emergence method to compare the soil seed bank of grassland, heathland, and scrub oak sites. We classified seedlings by growth form (graminoid, forb, or woody) and identified them to genus and species when possible. We observed that seedling density declined along a successional gradient, with the highest total density and highest graminoid density at grassland sites and the lowest at one of the scrub oak sites. A nMDS ordination grouped grassland sites with dominant graminoids and heathland sites with dominant woody species and forbs. Seeds of key grassland dominants were absent from scrub oak and heathland samples but were found in grassland samples. Our results suggest that lack of seed bank of desirable grassland species may be a limiting factor in restoration projects intended to convert scrub oak shrubland to sandplain grassland. Scarcity of grassland species in the scrub oak seed bank highlights the importance of maintaining existing grassland communities, rather than attempting to restore them once they are gone.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 34 • No. 2