Soil seed banks in plant invasions: promoting species invasiveness and long-term impact on plant community dynamics.

Margherita Gioria 1 , Petr Pyšek 2 3 & Lenka Moravcová 2


  1. School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
  2. Institute of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, CZ-252 43 Průhonice, Czech Republic
  3. Department of Ecology, Faculty of Science, Viničná 7, CZ-128 44 Praha 2, Czech Republic

Published: 26 June 2012



Invasions by alien plant species significantly affect biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Investigations of the soil seed banks of invasive plant species and changes in the composition and structure of resident seed banks following plant invasions can provide valuable insight into the long-term implications of plant invasions. Soil seed banks play a major role as reservoirs of species and genetic diversity and allow for the persistence of a species at a locality, buffering environmental changes that may occur over time. Despite the emerging body of literature on ecological impacts of invasive plants on the diversity of resident communities, the long-term implications of impoverished soil seed banks for vegetation dynamics and ecosystem functioning have only recently begun receiving attention. Evidence has so far indicated that there is a correlation between the invasiveness of a species and the characteristics of its seed bank, and that changes in the seed banks of resident communities associated with plant invasions affect their biotic resistance to primary and secondary invasions. To promote the study of soil seed banks in the context of invasive species, we (i) summarize the functional roles of soil seed banks; (ii) describe how the capacity to form a seed bank may contribute to a species’ invasiveness using data from the flora of the Czech Republic, showing an increasing representation of species capable of forming long-term persistent seed bank from casual to naturalized to invasion stage; (iii) assess the impact of invasive plants on seed banks of resident communities, including the potential creation of conditions that favour secondary invasions by other alien species or native weeds, and long-term implications of such impact; and (iv) describe the potential effects of climate change on the soil seed bank in the context of plant invasions. We conclude with highlighting promising avenues for future research on invaded soil seed banks, and emphasize the importance of this knowledge in the development of control programs and restoration strategies.


climate change, control, community dynamics, impact, plant invasions, restoration, seed persistence, soil seed bank, species invasiveness

How to cite

Gioria M., Pyšek P. & Moravcová L. (2012) Soil seed banks in plant invasions: promoting species invasiveness and long-term impact on plant community dynamics. – Preslia 84: 327350