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Individual study: Topsoil removal and introduction of target species in plant material aids restoration of species-rich flood meadows in Northern Upper Rhine, Germany

Published source details

Hölzel N. & Otte A. (2003) Restoration of a species-rich flood meadow by topsoil removal and diaspore transfer with plant material. Applied Vegetation Science, 6, 131-140

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Restore or create traditional water meadows Farmland Conservation

A replicated, controlled study of a flood meadow (a former arable field) in Germany between 1998-2001 (Hölzel & Otte 2003) found that the removal of nutrient-rich topsoil and introduction of meadow seeds aided meadow restoration. Topsoil removal (to depths of 30 and 50 cm) and introduction of plant material from nearby species-rich flood meadows (alluvial Molinion and Cnidion meadows) resulted in a decline of arable weeds and ruderal species and an increase in resident grassland species and transferred species. After four years, 64% of all species found in established vegetation were from transferred plant material and 82% of the entire species pool at donor sites was transferred (including 31 species in the national and regional Red Data Book). Transfer rates ranged from 64 to 72%/strip for the flooded strips and 53 to 56% for the dry strips. Following soil removal in 1997, six strips (20 x 50 m) were covered with freshly mown plant material (5-10 cm thick) from nearby flood-meadows and two were left as controls. Plants were recorded annually in ten 10 x 10 m quadrats/strip and in six quadrats/donor meadow. Twenty soil cores (10 x 3 cm diameter) were taken from six plots with and two without soil removal and germinated seedlings were identified. Two samples (each six quadrats: 32 x 32 cm) of plant material (at the surface and 2 cm of the topsoil) were taken from four strips (February 1998 and 1999) to analyse transferred seeds.