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  • 1 University of Debrecen Department of Ecology P.O. Box 71 H-4010 Debrecen Hungary
  • 2 Hortobágy National Park Directorate Sumen út 2 H-4024 Debrecen Hungary
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We studied the early vegetation dynamics in former croplands (sunflower and cereal fields) sown with a low-diversity seed mixture (composed of 2 native grass species) in Egyek-Pusztakócs, Hortobágy National Park, East-Hungary. The percentage cover of vascular plants was recorded in 4 permanent plots per field on 7 restored fields between 2006 and 2009. Ten aboveground biomass samples per field were also collected in June in each year. We addressed two questions: (i) How do seed sowing and annual mowing affect the species richness, biomass and cover of weeds? (ii) How fast does the cover of sown grasses develop after seed sowing? Weedy species were characteristic in the first year after sowing. In the second and third year their cover and species richness decreased. From the second year onwards the cover of perennial grasses increased. Spontaneously immigrating species characteristic to the reference grasslands were also detected with low cover scores. Short-lived weeds were suppressed as their cover and biomass significantly decreased during the study. The amount of litter and sown grass biomass increased progressively. However, perennial weed cover, especially the cover of Cirsium arvense increased substantially. Our results suggest that grassland vegetation can be recovered by sowing low diversity mixtures followed up by yearly mowing. Suppression of perennial weed cover needs more frequent mowing (multiple times a year) or grazing.

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