Succession of aquatic and marsh vegetation in sandpits

Anna Müllerová

Many studies address the succession of vegetation at post-mining sites, but there are very few studies of succession and the importance of wetland and aquatic habitats at such sites. The aim of this study was to describe the development of aquatic and marsh vegetation in sandpits. The study dealt with 60 sandpits abandoned for 1 to 65 years. Data collection was performed in 2016 and 2017 in the form of phytosociological relevés across the Czech Republic. The chronosequence approach was used for describing changes in vegetation expressed by ordination methods. Alongside the vegetation composition, several environmental characteristics (water depth, substrate type, and age) were recorded. Altogether 229 species of vascular plants were recorded in wetland and aquatic habitats. A total of 39 Red List species were found to have a higher frequency at periodically flooded sites than at permanently flooded sites. Water depth, age and substrate type had significant effects on plant species composition. Periodically flooded sites usually progress towards reed and tall sedge stands. Dominant exchange, as is known from terrestrial or semi-terrestrial successions, seems to occur also in permanently flooded sites. Sandpits in the Czech Republic are generally suitable areas to apply near-natural restoration, especially favoured spontaneous succession.

They also host habitats that are continuously disappearing from the surrounding landscape and therefore act as refugia for endangered species.