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Limited Effects of Large‐Scale Riparian Restoration on Seed Banks in Agriculture

Langridge, Suzanne M.
Restoration ecology 2011 v.19 no.5 pp. 607-616
biogeography, buried seeds, economic impact, farming systems, forest restoration, habitats, indigenous species, soil sampling, species diversity, vertebrate pests, weeds, Sacramento River, United States
I examined the effect of riparian forest restoration on plant abundance and diversity, including weed species, on agricultural lands along the Sacramento River in California (United States). Riparian forest restoration on the Sacramento River is occurring on a large‐scale, with a goal of restoring approximately 80,000 ha over 160 km of the river. In multiuse habitats, such as the Sacramento River, effects of adjoining habitat types and movement of species across these habitats can have important management implications in terms of landscape‐scale patterns of species distributions. Increased numbers of pest animals and weeds on agricultural lands associated with restored habitats could have negative economic impacts, and in turn affect support for restoration of natural areas. In order to determine the distribution and abundance of weeds associated with large‐scale restoration, I collected seed bank soil samples on orchards between 0 and 5.6 km from adjacent restored riparian, remnant riparian, and agricultural habitats. I determined the abundance, species richness, and dispersal mode of plant species in the seed bank and analyzed these variables in terms of adjacent habitat type and age of restored habitat. I found that agricultural weed species had higher densities at the edge of restored riparian habitat and that native plants had higher densities adjacent to remnant riparian habitat. Weed seed abundance increased significantly on walnut farms adjacent to restored habitat with time since restored. I supply strong empirical evidence that large areas of natural and restored habitats do not lead to a greater penetration of weed species into agricultural areas, but rather that weed penetration is both temporally and spatially limited.