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See detailWhy some species cannot colonize restored habitats? The effects of seed and microsite availability
Piqueray, Julien ULg; Saad, Layla; Bizoux, Jean-Philippe ULg et al

in Journal for Nature Conservation (2013), 21

Restoration of calcareous grasslands was promoted as a conservation strategy to reduce the risks imposed by habitat loss and fragmentation. Restoration already provided promising results for several taxa ... [more ▼]

Restoration of calcareous grasslands was promoted as a conservation strategy to reduce the risks imposed by habitat loss and fragmentation. Restoration already provided promising results for several taxa, however some specialist species still fail at colonizing restored habitats. We aimed at explaining this lack of colonization success for three calcareous grasslands specialist species in Southern Belgium: Pulsatilla vulgaris, Trifolium montanum and Veronica prostrata. We studied: (i) Germination in control and outdoor conditions (cold, heat, smoke and litter effects); (ii) In-situ seedling emergence patterns (effects of seed addition and germination microsites availability). The three species were able to germinate in Petri dishes in the absence of treatment. Cold enhanced the germination of V. prostrata. Fire-related treatments (heat shock and smoke exposure) did not enhance germination and were deleterious to V. prostrata. Litter cover improved P. vulgaris emergence in outdoor containers, but had a negative effect on V. prostrata. In the field, V. prostrata did not emerge. T. montanum seedlings were observed in the reference grasslands when seeds were added, but not in the restored grasslands. P. vulgaris emerged in the reference grasslands, and to a lower degree in the restored grasslands. The combination of seed addition and microsites availability for seed germination resulted in enhanced seedling emergence for P. vulgaris. Our results suggest that seed and microsite availability can be limiting factors for site colonization, but the combination of both is likely much more limiting. Lower seedling emergence in restored than in reference grasslands suggests a lower habitat quality in restored grasslands. [less ▲]

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See detailConservation of an endemic metallophyte species: effect of population history and vegetative density on the reproductive success of Viola calaminaria
Bizoux, Jean-Philippe ULg; cristofoli, sara; Piqueray, Julien ULg et al

in Journal for Nature Conservation (2011), 19

Demographic studies that monitor population dynamics are an essential component in establishing conservation strategies. The conventional view that human disturbance results in negative effects to species ... [more ▼]

Demographic studies that monitor population dynamics are an essential component in establishing conservation strategies. The conventional view that human disturbance results in negative effects to species and habitats is countered by the fact that some anthropogenic activities result in the origin of new habitat opportunities for species. Faced with an increase in European restoration programs, studies that assess the variability in traits conferring reproductive success among populations is particularly relevant to rare species conservation and further improves our knowledge to achieve restoration success. In the present study, we evaluated reproductive success variation (flower density, percent fructification and seed set) in Viola calaminaria, a rare endemic metallophyte, in relationship to population origins (ancestral or recent habitat), plant density and habitat structure. Results indicated that seed set varied significantly among ancestral and recently established populations, with recent populations exhibiting increased seed set (P < 0.05). Habitat structure did not influence species reproductive success. A positive significant correlation was detected between vegetative and flower density (P < 0.001). Results suggested that population origin (ancestral or recent) and local vegetative density was more important than habitat structure on reproductive success in V. calaminaria. In addition, we demonstrated that V. calaminaria populations distributed in habitats recently created by anthropogenic activity exhibited similar or higher reproductive success than populations from ancestral sites. These results are noteworthy as they show that anthropogenic activities can create new favourable habitats for some rare species. [less ▲]

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