Sow seeds of nurse plants
Overall effectiveness category Evidence not assessed
Number of studies: 1
Background information and definitions
Nurse plants are plants which are thought to aid the growth of other species by providing relatively benign conditions below their canopy. Examples of these altered conditions may include increases in moisture and nutrients, and decreases in temperature and damage from herbivores (de Toledo Castanho & Prado 2014). Sowing the seeds of nurse plants may facilitate the colonisation of grassland species.
This action involves sowing the seeds of nurse plants only. For studies that sow or plant both nurse plants and grassland plant species, see ‘Sow or plant nurse plants (alongside seeding/planting of grassland species)’.
de Toledo Castanho, C. & Prado, P.I. (2014) Benefit of shading by nurse plant does not change along a stress gradient in a coastal dune. PLOS ONE, 9, e105082.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated, controlled study in 2009–2012 in a former orchard in the south of France (Jaunatre et al. 2014) found that sowing seeds of nurse plants did not alter plant species richness or vegetation cover and reduced the similarity of the plant community to that of intact steppe. Plant species richness did not differ significantly between areas where seeds of nurse plants were sown (10 species/plot) and areas where no seeds were sown (16 species/plot), but both were lower than species richness in an intact steppe site (33 species/plot). The similarity of the plant community to that of the intact steppe site was lower in areas where seeds of nurse plants were sown than in areas where they were not sown (presented as Bray-Curtis similarity). Vegetation cover was not significantly different in areas where the seeds of nurse plants were sown (66%) and areas where they were not (67%). In 2009, all trees were removed from the former orchard and soils were levelled. Sheep were introduced in 2010. Seeds of nurse plants were sown in two 30-ha areas, while no seeds were sown in a 270-ha area. In May 2012, cover of each plant species was recorded in each area in eighteen 2 x 2 m quadrats.Study and other actions tested