Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2017 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Long-term change in soil seedbanks of invaded and restored urban forest patches
Johnson, Lea
Co-Authors: Lea R. Johnson and Ross D. Whitehead

Abstract: Ecological restoration of urban forest patches is increasingly used to improve environmental benefits to people and biodiversity in cities. These restoration efforts often remove invasive plants and add native species to alter long-term trajectories of vegetation change. Soil seedbanks are a source of propagules following restoration disturbance, and may be influenced by management action, but there are few studies investigating urban forest seedbank dynamics. To understand how restoration influences vegetation dynamics through the soil seedbank, we sampled seedbanks in urban forest patches and tested whether invasive woody plant removal and native tree planting resulted in increased native tree seed abundance, reduced abundance of invasive species seeds, and changed in potential vegetation structure and composition; outcomes which would reflect original goals of these restoration efforts. Seedbank samples were collected from 60 long-term vegetation plots in urban forest patches in New York City Parks; 30 plots in restored forest patches, and 30 in unrestored forest patches dominated by woody invasive plants since all sites were first surveyed ca. 1990. Seedbank samples were subjected to a two-season germination trial. Soil seedbanks of restored forest patches were found to have a greater abundance of native tree seeds and fewer native and non-native liana seeds than unrestored seedbanks. This study establishes a starting point for future investigation of long-term soil seedbank dynamics in urban forests.