The effect of succession stage on seed rain and seedling recruitment in overgrown Molinia caeruleae meadows


  • Kinga Kostrakiewicz-Gierałt Institute of Botany, Jagiellonian University


Investigations into the effect of succession stage on seed rain and seedling recruitment were conducted in Kraków-Kostrze (southern Poland) in 2014 and 2015. Observations were carried out in Molinia caeruleae meadows representing early (Patch I), temporary (Patch II) and advanced (Patch III) stage of secondary succession. Patch I was dominated by meadow species creating delicate stems, Patch II abounded in large tussock grasses and tall-growing rhizomatous grasses and Patch III was overgrown by willow shrubs and bordered by trees. The number of seeds and taxa in the seed rain decreased gradually in the successive study sites. Species resident in the standing vegetation were the most abundantly represented in the seed rain and their share augmented remarkably in Patch III, most likely due to its spatial isolation by the surrounding shrubs and trees. The share of seedlings and taxa in artificially made gaps in the plant cover and litter decreases along the successional gradient. The majority of taxa appearing in the seedling pool of all the patches occurred in the seed rain, while the taxa in the soil seed-bank reserves were modestly represented only in Patches I and II. Combining the obtained results and published data, it can be stated that, being abundant in the seed rain, the best colonizers show the greatest germination capability. Although the best colonizers are meadow taxa, fast-growing weeds, trees as well as alien, invasive species also appeared in the seedling pool.

Received: July 22, 2016; Revised: September 23, 2016; Accepted: October 12, 2016; Published online: November 9, 2016

How to cite: Kostrakiewicz-Gierałt K. The effect of succession stage on seed rain and seedling recruitment in overgrown Molinia caeruleae meadows. Arch Biol Sci. 2017;69(3):513-22.


Download data is not yet available.


Ellenberg H. Vegetation Ecology of Central Europe. New York: Cambridge University Press; 1988. 732 p.

Fuller RM. The changing extent and conservation interest of lowland grasslands in England and Wales: a review of grasslands surveys 1930-84. Biol Conserv. 1987;40:281300.

Green BH. Agricultural intensification and loss of habitat, species and amenity in British grasslands: a review of historical change and assessment of future prospects. Grass Forage Sci. 1990;45:365-72.

Joyce CB, Wade PM. European wet grasslands: biodiversity, management and restoration. Chichester: Wiley; 1998. 385 p.

Muller S. Diversity of management practices required to ensure conservation of rare and locally threatened plant species in grasslands: a case study at regional scale (Lorraine, France). Biodivers Conserv. 2000;11:1173-84.

Kącki Z. Variability and long-term changes in the species composition of Molinion meadows in Poland: a case study using a large data set from the Polish Vegetation Database. Acta Bot Siles Monogr. 2012;7:1-131.

Joyce Ch. Ecological consequences and restoration potential of abandoned wet grasslands. Ecol Eng. 2014;66:91-102.

Interpretation Manual of European Union Habitats – EUR 25 – NATURA 2000. [Brussels]: European Commission – DG Environment; 2003. 127 p.

Kostrakiewicz K. The effect of gap size on colonization process in Molinietum caeruleae meadows with different habitat conditions. Pol J Ecol. 2011;59:677-86.

Kostrakiewicz-Gierałt K. The effect of the shape of gaps on microenvironmental conditions and seedling recruitment in Molinietum caeruleae meadows. Acta Agrobot. 2015;68(2):143-51.

Falińska K. Alternative pathways of succession: species turnover patterns in meadows abandoned for 30 years. Phytocenosis 15 (N.S.) Archiv Geobot. 2003;9:1-104.

Špačková I, Lepš L. Variability of seedling recruitment under dominant, moss, and litter removal over four years. Folia Geobot. 2004;39(1):41-55.

Janeček S, Lepš J. Effect of litter, leaf cover and cover of basal internodes of the dominant species Molinia caerulea on seedling recruitment and established vegetation. Acta Oecol. 2005;28(2):141-7.

Borkowska L. Patterns of seedling recruitment in experimental gaps on mosaic vegetation of abandoned meadows. Acta Soc Bot Pol. 2004;73:343-50.

Borkowska L. Wzorce rekrutacji siewek gatunków klonalnych w zbiorowisku niekoszonej łąki Cirsietum rivularis Ralski 1931. Phytocenosis 16 (N.S) Archiv Geobot. 2004;10:1-71.

Borkowska L. The effect of disturbances on the floristic composition of vegetation in abandoned meadows. Pol Bot Stud. 2006;22:63-70.

Kostrakiewicz-Gierałt K. The impact of disturbance gradient on recruitment of clonal plant species in Molinietum caeruleae meadows. Pol J Ecol. 2013;61(3):519-33.

Kostrakiewicz-Gierałt K. The impact of time of gap origin on microsite conditions and seedling recruitment in Molinietum caeruleae meadows. Inter J Conserv Sci. 2015;6(1):111-24.

Fibich P, Vítová A, Macek P, Lepš J. Establishment and spatial associations of recruits in meadow gaps. J Veg Sci. 2012;24(3):496-505.

Dubiel E, carthographer. Plant communities of the 3rd Campus of the Jagiellonian University and its surroundings [map]. Kraków: Institute of Botany Jagiellonian University; 2005. 1 sheet : 1; 96 x 56 cm. color.

Dubiel E. Map of actual vegetation of the city of Cracow. Zesz Nauk UJ, Prace Bot. 1991;22:121-33.

Dubiel E. Meadows in Cracow. I. Molinio-Arrhenatheretea class. Studia Ośr Dok Fizjogr. PAN. 1996;24:145-71.

Matuszkiewicz W. A guide to identification of Polish plant communities. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN; 2001. 536 p.

Aulak W. Klucze do oznaczania nasion, siewek, pędów drzew i krzewów leśnych. Warszawa: Fundacja Rozwój SGGW; 1994. 118 p.

Kulpa W. Fruits and seeds. The key for determination of weed seeds. Warszawa: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe; 1958. 419 p.

Cappers RTJ, Bekker RM. A Manual for the Identification of plant seeds and fruits. Groningen Archaeological Studies 2013;23:1-273.

Kostrakiewicz K. Taxonomic studies on Polish species of the genus Vicia L. Springfield: U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation by the Foreign Scientific Publications Department of the National Center for Scientific. 1956. 54 p.

Szafer W, Pawłowski B, editors. Flora of Poland. The Vascular Plants of Poland and neighboring lands. Vol. 7. Warsaw: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe; 1955; 302 p.

Jasiewicz A., editor. Flora of Poland. The Vascular Plants of Poland and neighboring lands. Vol. 4. Warsaw: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe; 1985; 306 p.

Kotorová I, Lepš J. Comparative ecology of seedling recruitment in an oligotrophic wet meadow. J Veg Sci. 1999;10(2):175-86.

Csapodý V. Keimlingsbestimmungsbuch der Dikotyledonen. Budapeszt: Akademiai Kiado;1968. 286 p. German.

Muller FM. Seedlings of the North-Western European lowland. A flora of seedlings. 1st ed. The Hague, Boston: Dr W. Junk B.V. Publishers; 1978. 653 p.

Mirek Z, Piękoś-Mirkowa H, Zając A, Zając M. Flowering plants and pteridophytes of Poland. A checklist. 1st ed. Kraków: W. Szafer Institute of Botany PAS; 2002. 442 p.

Jensen K. Species composition of soil seed bank and seed rain of abandoned wet meadows and their relation to aboveground vegetation. Flora. 1998;193(4):345-59.

Michalska-Hejduk D. Changes in species composition in purple moor-grass meadows Molinietum caeruleae W. Koch 1926 in the Kampinos National Park in the period 1994-2004. Studia Naturae. 2006;54(1):159-72.

Michalska-Hejduk D. Changes of semi-natural vegetation with a focus on Molinion meadows after 50 years of strict protection. Pol J Environ Stud. 2012;6:1731-41.

Kulik M. Changes in biodiversity and species composition of Molinia meadow depending to use method. Pol J Environ Stud. 2014;23(3):773-82.

Soukupová L. Life histories in principal plant populations, including their allelopathic interferences. In: Osbornová J, Kovárová M, Lepš J, Prach K, editors. Succession in Abandoned Fields: Studies in Central Bohemia, Czechoslovakia. Dordrecht, Boston, London: Kluver Academic Publishers. 1990. p. 32-8.

Middleton B, van Diggelen R, Jensen K. Seed dispersal in fens. Appl Veg Sci. 2006;9(2):279-84.

Ozinga WA, Romermann C, Bekker RM, Prinzing A, Tamis WLM, Schaminée JHJ, Hennekens SM, Thompson K, Poschlod P, Kleyer M, Bakker JP, van Groenendeael JM. Dispersal failure contributes to plant losses in NW Europe. Ecol Lett. 2009;12(1): 66-74.

Galatowitsch SM, van der Valk AG. The vegetation of restored and natural prairie wetlands. Ecol Appl. 1996;6:102-12.

Debinski DM, Holt RD. A survey and overview of habitat fragmentation experiments. Conserv Biol. 2000;14(2):342-55.

Soons MB, Messelink JH, Jongejans E, Heil GW. Habitat fragmentation reduces grassland connectivity for both short-distance and long-distance wind-dispersed forbs. J Ecol. 2005;93:1214-25.

Pounden E, Greene DF, Quesadaand M, Contreras Sánchez JM. The effect of collisions with vegetation elements on the dispersal of winged and plumed seeds. J Ecol. 2008;96:591-8.

Sheldon JC, Burrows FM. The dispersal effectiveness of the achene-pappus

units of selected compositae in steady winds with convection. New Phytol. 1973;72:665-75.

Moore RJ. The biology of Canadian weeds. 13. Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop. Can J Plant Sci. 1975;55:1033-48.

Becker RL, Haar MJ, Kinkaid BD, Klossner LD, Forcella F. Production and wind dispersal of Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense L.) achenes. Minnesota: Minnesota Department of Transportation. 2008. 42 p.

Werner PA, Bradbury IK, Gross RS. The biology of Canadian weeds. 45. Solidago canadensis L. Can J Plant Sci. 1980;60:1393-409.

Tackenberg O, Peter P, Bonn S. Assessment of wind dispersal potential in plant species. Ecol Monogr. 2003;73(2):191-205.

Atkinson MD. Betula pendula Roth (B. verrucosa Ehrh.) and B. pubescens Ehrh. J. Ecol. 1992;80:837-70.

Wagner S, Wälder K, Ribbens E, Zeibig A. Directionality in fruit dispersal models for anemochorous forest trees. Ecol Model. 2004;179:487-98.

Merritt DM, Nilsson C, Jansson R. Consequences of propagule dispersal and river fragmentation for riparian plant community diversity and turnover. Ecol Monogr. 2010;80(4):609-26.

Soomers H, Karssenberg D, Soons,MB, Verweij PA, Verhoeven JTA, Wassen MJ. Wind and Water Dispersal of Wetland Plants Across Fragmented Landscapes. Ecosystems. 2013;16(3): 434-51.

Nordborg G. Studies on Sanguisorba officinalis L. Bot Not. 1963;116:267-88.

Dušek K, Dušková E, Smékalová K. Betonica officinalis L. in the Czech Republic. II. Seed production and quality and variability of total polyphenols content. Herba Polonica. 2010;56(3):15-23.

Blaney SC, Kotanen PM. Effects of fungal pathogens on seeds of native and exotic plants: a test using the congeneric pairs. J Appl Ecol. 2001;38:1104-13.

Bekker RM, Oomes MJM, Bakker JP. The impact of groundwater level on soil seed bank survival. Seed Sci Res. 1998;8(3):399-404.

Křenova A, Lepš J. Regeneration of a Gentiana pneumonanthe population in an oligotrophic wet meadow. J Veg Sci. 1996;7(1):107-12.

Jensen K, Meyer C. Effects of light competition and litter on the performance of Viola palustris and on species composition and diversity of an abandoned fen meadow. Plant Ecol. 2001;155(2):169-81.

Fu-Ping T, You L, Gao-Lin W, Shang-Li S. Seedling recruitment of forb species under experimental habitats in alpine grassland. Pak J Bot. 2015;47(6):2127-34.

Li W, Cheng J, Yu K, Epstein HE, Du G. Short-term responses of an alpine meadow community to removal of a dominant species along a fertilization gradient. J Plant Ecol. 2015;8(5):1-10.

Hautier Y, Niklaus PA, Hector A. Competition for light causes plant biodiversity loss after eutrophication. Science. 2009;324:636-8.

Mudrák O, Frouz J. Allelopathic effect of Salix caprea litter on late successional plants at different substrates of post-mining sites: pot experiment studies. Botany. 2012;90(4):311-18.

Falińska K. Long-term changes in size and composition of seed bank during succession: from meadow to forest. Acta Soc Bot Pol. 1998;67(3-4):301-11.

Falińska K. Seed bank dynamics in abandoned meadows during a 20-year period in the Białowieża National Park. J Ecol. 1999;87(3):461-75.

Ma M., Du G., Zhou X. Role of the soil seed bank during succession in a subalpine meadow on the Tibetan Plateau. Arc Antarc Alp Res. 2009;41(4):469-77.

Amiaud B, Touzard B. The relationships between soil seed bank, aboveground vegetation and disturbances in old embanked marshlands of Western France. Flora. 2004;199:25-35.

Yang D, Li W. Soil seed bank and aboveground vegetation along a successional gradient on the shores of an oxbow. Aquat Bot. 2013;110:67-77.

Kleyer M, Bekker RM, Knevel IC, Bakker JP, Thompson K, Sonnerschein M, Poschlod P, Van Groenendael JM, Klimeš L, Klimešová J, Klotz S, Rusch GM, Hermy M, Adriaens D, Boedeltje G, Bossuyt B, Dannemann A, Endels P, Götzenberger L, Hodgson JG, Jackel A-K, Kühn I, Kunzmann D, Ozinga WA, Römermann C, Stadler M, Schlegelmilch J, Steenddam HJ, Tackenberg O, Wilmann B, Cornelissen JHC, Eroksson O, Garnier E, Peco B. The LEDA Traitbase: A database of life-history traits of Northwest European flora. J Ecol. 2008;96:1266-74.

Grime JP, Mason G, Curtis AV, Rodman J, Band SR, Mowfort MAG, Neal AM, Shaw S. A comparative study of germination characteristics in a local flora. J Ecol. 1981;69(3):1017-59.

Vandelook F, Bolle N, Van Assche JA. Multiple environmental signals required for embryo growth and germination of seeds of Selinum carvifolia (L.) L. and Angelica sylvestris L. (Apiaceae). Seed Sci Res. 2007;17:283-91.

Stammel B, Kiehl K, Pfadenhauer J. Effects of experimental and real land use on seedling recruitment of six fen species. Basic Appl Ecol. 2006;7:334-46.

Holloway PS, Matheke GEM. Seed Germination of Burnet, Sanguisorba spp. Native Plants Journal 2003;4(2):95-9.

Kiviniemi K. Population dynamics of Agrimonia eupatoria and Geum rivale, two perennial grassland species. Plant Ecol. 2002;159(2):153-69.

Bissels S, Donath TW, Hölzel N, Otte A. Effects of different mowing regimes on seedling recruitment in alluvial grasslands. Basic Appl Ecol. 2006;7:433-42.

Donath TW, Hölzel N, Otte A. Influence of competition by sown grass, disturbance and litter on recruitment of rare flood-meadow species. Biol. Conserv. 2006;130(3): 315-23.

Špačková I, Kotorová I, Lepš J. Sensitivity of seedling recruitment to moss, litter and dominant removal in an oligotrophic wet meadow. Folia Geobot. 1998;33(1):17-30.

Poschlod P, Biewer H. Diaspore and gap availability are limiting species richness in wet meadows. Folia Geobot. 2005;40(1):13-34.

Henson IE. The effect of light, potassium nitrate and temperature on the germination of Chenopodium album L. Weed Res. 1970;10:27-39.

Thompson LJ, Naeem S. The effects of soil warming on plant recruitment. Plant Soil. 1996;182(2):339-43.

Yao S, Lan H, Zhang F. Variation of seed heteromorphism in Chenopodium album and the effect of salinity stress on the descendants. Ann Bot. 2010;105(6):1015-25.

Hartnett DC, Bazzaz FA. The genet and ramet population dynamics of Solidago canadensis in an abandoned field. J Ecol. 1985;73(2):407-13.

Kuznetsova T, Rosenvald K, Ostonen I, Helmisaaric H-S, Mandre M, Lõhmus K. Survival of black alder (Alnus glutinosa L.), silver birch (Betula pendula Roth.) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) seedlings in a reclaimed oil shale mining area. Ecol Eng. 2010;36(4):495-502.

Mei L, Chen X, Tang J. Allelopathic effects of invasive weed Solidago canadensis on native plants. J Appl Ecol. 2005;16(12):2379-82.

Sun B, Tan JZ, Wan ZG, Gu FG, Zhu MD. Allelopathic effects of extracts from Solidago canadensis L. against seed germination and seedling growth of some plants. J Environ Stud. 2006;18(2):304-9.




How to Cite

Kostrakiewicz-Gierałt K. The effect of succession stage on seed rain and seedling recruitment in overgrown Molinia caeruleae meadows. Arch Biol Sci [Internet]. 2017Aug.11 [cited 2022Aug.9];69(3):513-22. Available from: