The importance of donor population identity and habitat type when creating new populations of small Melampyrum sylvaticum from seed in Perthshire, Scotland

Article English OPEN
Dalrymple, SE ; Broome, A
  • Publisher: University of Cambridge
  • Subject: QH | QK
    mesheuropmc: food and beverages

Small cow-wheat Melampyrum sylvaticum, a nationally scarce annual identified as a priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, was the focus of a translocation attempt aiming to establish new populations within the extent of its former Scottish range. Seeds were collected (from wild Scottish populations) in three phases (in the years 2005, 2006 and 2008) and sown at six receptor sites where the species was absent but habitat seemed suitable. Each phase used increasing numbers of seed after the results of the first phase (89 to 103 seeds sown per site) suggested that many more than 100 seeds are needed to establish the species (at least in the short-term) at a site. Comparisons of the suitability of seed from three different wild populations showed that one resulted in higher germination rates. This donor population was associated with environmental conditions more similar to those at the receptor sites than those of the other donors. Receptor sites also differed in their suitability; those that were climatically and edaphically more similar to sites supporting wild populations appear to be more favourable to M.sylvaticum longer-term survival. Together, these can be seen to suggest that future seed translocation should be to sites that are ecologically similar to the donor population and within sites that fall into the cooler and wetter range of environmental conditions currently supporting Scottish populations of M. sylvaticum.
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