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Cultivation disturbance; Regeneration; Sudd; South Sudan; Seed bank; Wetlands
Soil seed banks are important for regeneration of degraded wetlands ecosystems. The Sudd wetlands of Juba city have long been encroached for crop cultivation. Seedling germination was monitored in a greenhouse to establish possible natural regeneration in Mindiari, Rejaf and Roton wetlands in the Sudd. Sixty-four species germinated from the soil seed bank of which 12.5% were dominated by Cyperus difformis and Typha capensis. The findings showed that median wetland species richness in Mindiari was 1.5 (interquartile range = 0.75?3.5), Rejaf 2.5 (interquartile range = 1.0 ? 4.0), Roton 3 (interquartile range = 1.0 ? 5.0) while median Shannon-Wiener diversity was 1.5 (1.14 ?1.73), 1.43 (1.01?1.66), 1.15 (0.98?1.67) for Mindiari, Rejaf and Roton respectively. Both the median seed species richness and diversity were not significantly different among the study wetlands. The median of seed density (56.1) was significantly higher in Roton than in Mindiari (36.7) and Rejaf (29.4) wetlands. The NMDS results showed that species composition of Mindiari and Rejaf was different from Roton. It is concluded that growing crops in wetlands did not influence species richness and diversity but it reduced seed density and altered species composition. Although wetland species were not significantly different in the three-wetland categories, dominance of canopy species belonging to Typhaceae and Cyperaceae indicates that these species are resilient to cultivation and could facilitate natural regeneration of cultivated wetlands edges of the Sudd region in Juba. Further research should examine effect of cultivation duration and flooding regimes on soil seed bank species richness, diversity, and density and composition.