The largest number of seedlings was found in Square
3, which is also somewhat surprising (Figure 7). The region represented by Square 3 has
been cleared for several years now and it might be assumed that the seed bank would by now
be somewhat depleted in comparison to the other areas still covered in Rhododendron.
Raking off the leaf litter once more is likely to have been beneficial in that seeds long
buried, may have been brought nearer to the surface. The seeds of some species require
light for germination, so if they were brought to the surface by raking, this may have
further promoted germination in the hidden seed bank.
Seedling density may also be higher in Square 3 simply because there are more plants
which have already regenerated in this area (particularly the ground flora) to provide
additional seed sources. Conditions are also likely to be more favourable for seedling
growth in Square 3 because the area has had longer to recover from the effects of the
It is likely that the removal of the leaf litter layers in Squares 1 and 2 and the
consequent disturbance of the soil and its seed bank, by the vigorous raking is also
responsible for the rapid stimulation of germination in Areas 1 and 2. Seedling density
was lower in Square 1 than in Square 2 (Figure 7). The soil in this region was very
shallow and stony, so the lower seedling density may be a reflection of the poor quality
of the substrate in this region.
Area 4 shows a notably low seedling density in comparison to the other regions (Figure
7). It is likely that this is due to the fact that this area was the last to be raked and
cleared of leaf litter.