Changes in vegetation and soil seed bank of meadow after waterlogging caused by Castor fiber

Magdalena Franczak, Bożenna Czarnecka


Soil waterlogging is among abiotic stresses that influence species composition and productivity in numerous plant communities. The aim of the study was to find answer to the question of how waterlogging caused by beavers’ activity induces quantitative and qualitative changes of vegetation and soil seed bank levels of variable-moist meadows.

An immediate effect of the waterlogging at the level of vegetation was the decline in species richness and a decrease in the values of the biodiversity index. Water stress inhibited growth and development of plants already present and, primarily, impeded recruitment of new individuals of species characteristic of variable-moist meadows, e.g. Cirsium rivulare, Filipendula ulmaria and Lythrum salicaria, which were replaced by Carex acutiformis. Prolonged waterlogging did not induce equally substantial changes in the soil seed bank as in the vegetation. Both in the waterlogged and control patches, slightly decreased species richness and biodiversity index were recorded. After waterlogging withdrawal, the reserves of the soil seed bank were slightly higher than the initial values. The differences were not statistically significant.

In the waterlogged patch, the qualitative floristic similarity between taxa identified in the soil seed bank and vegetation cover declined, which was evidenced by the value of Jaccard’s index decreasing from 0.46 to 0.36. A reverse relationship was found in control patch, where the value of the similarity index slightly increased from 0.41 to 0.48.


waterlogging; vegetation; soil seed bank; variable-moist meadow; Castor fiber

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