Potential species replacement within low-diversity shrub thicket communities was investigated for a Virginia barrier island. Seed bank species composition was quantified in a glasshouse study using soil samples collected beneath closed Myrica cerifera thickets, as well as from thicket gaps. Samples were collected from productive and aging thickets, corresponding to differences in soil age. These data were compared to species presently occurring within the thickets and gaps. Seedbank species composition was not indicative of current community composition for either the intact thickets or the gaps. Seed banks resembled a more pioneer community. Thirteen families, 23 genera, and 25 species were identified from the seed bank beneath the M. cerifera thickets. Four species were woody. The within-gap seed bank included 19 families, 30 genera, and 34 species. Eight species were woody. The current community included 21 families, 33 genera, and 36 species beneath the intact thickets as well as within the thicket gaps. Eighteen species were woody. The species richness of gaps was more than three times that of intact thickets. For low-diversity shrub thickets, gaps enhance species richness.