Thesis topic proposal
Zoltán Bátori
Orsolya Valkó
Soil seed bank in open habitats: vertical distribution and implications for restoration


Institute: University of Szeged
environmental sciences
Doctoral School of Environmental Sciences

Thesis supervisor: Orsolya Valkó
co-supervisor: Zoltán Bátori
Location of studies (in Hungarian): University of Szeged, Department of Ecology
Abbreviation of location of studies: SZTE

Description of the research topic:

Soil seed bank is a key driver of vegetation dynamics, and plays an important role both in degradation and recovery processes. The area and diversity of natural habitats, including several grassland types have been in a constant decline in the last decades due to the increasing human pressure on Earth. Soil seed bank can provide an important basis for the conservation and restoration of grasslands. Still there are several knowledge gaps regarding the vertical distribution, species composition and density of the soil seed bank. The vast majority of the published seed bank studies concentrated on the upper soil layers (generally 5-10 cm). We have very limited information on the seed bank of the lower soil layers, as well as about the ecological significance of the deeply buried seeds. The main objective of the PhD project is to study the vertical distribution of the seed bank in several habitat types. We will sample soil seed bank down to deeper layers than former studies in order to fill some of the knowledge gaps related to the deeply buried seeds. Open habitats, namely sandy grasslands, alkaline grasslands and wetlands of the Great Hungarian Plain are among the studied ecosystems. These studies will be among the first to shed light on the seed content on the deep soil layers of the studied habitats and we will be able to assess whether seeds of the former vegetation types are still viable in the soil. We will also evaluate the restoration prospects related to the deeply buried seeds.

Required language skills: B2 level English
Number of students who can be accepted: 1

Deadline for application: 2022-12-30

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