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Two decades of dune slack restoration in North Wales: Diversity, community and habitat specialists
  • Nicola Johansen,
  • Michelle Davis,
  • Paul Ashton
Nicola Johansen
Edge Hill University
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Michelle Davis
Writtle University College
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Paul Ashton
Edge Hill University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Abstract

Humid dunes slacks are a highly threatened habitat, listed as vulnerable in the EU habitat red list. Accelerated successional processes in dune systems have resulted in the loss and degradation of ideal conditions for specialist dune slack species, many of whom are increasingly rare. This study investigated the restoration of a dune slack in North Wales, where soil removal was undertaken to reverse succession and reinstate nutrient-poor open conditions. It assessed the outcomes of the restoration for dune plant slack species and communities and examined how these communities have changed over the 18 years since restoration, exploring ecological factors affecting these changes. Annual data was available from fixed quadrat surveys undertaken since restoration and a repeat survey was carried out in 2022 using the same methods, along with a new quadrat survey in un-restored areas. Data was analysed to determine species, species richness and species diversity and NDMS ordinations were used to reveal community composition over time. The study found that the restoration has re-established typical dune slack species and plant communities during the first 18 years. The establishment of species occurred rapidly in the first three years, followed by continued but slower increases in species richness and diversity. The plant community has changed over time by the addition of new species and few losses of species have taken place. The stages since restoration are characterised by indicator species After 18 years a species rich and diverse community exists, containing all the initial pioneer species, with species richness and diversity still increasing. These are likely to be largely recruited from an existing seed bank. Restoration by turf removal may be suitable for other low nutrient, species rich habitats dependent upon high groundwater levels.
16 Feb 2023Submitted to Nordic Journal of Botany
22 Feb 2023Assigned to Editor
22 Feb 2023Submission Checks Completed
22 Feb 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
22 Feb 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
04 Apr 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Major