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Effects of propagule pressure and priority effects on seedling recruitment during restoration of invaded grassland

Schantz, Merilynn C., Sheley, Roger L., James, Jeremy J.
Journal of arid environments 2018 v.150 pp. 62-70
annuals, arid lands, autumn, dry environmental conditions, ecosystems, germination, grasses, grasslands, growing season, indigenous species, invasive species, perennials, plant communities, rangelands, seedlings, seeds, sowing, species recruitment, spring, survival rate, Oregon
High disturbance frequency, low water availability, and advantageous growth mechanisms of invasive annual compared to native perennial grasses reduce native grass establishment throughout arid rangelands. Modifying seeding dispersal processes, including seeding rate and time, may increase native grass recruitment by influencing safe site occupation. A better understanding of seedling development through life history stages and the ecological processes occurring during these stages may be necessary to comprehend modified dispersal dynamics on plant community assembly. We tested the effects of spring vs. fall annual grass seeding times, adding water, and varying annual and perennial grass propagule pressure on perennial and annual grass recruitment in an eastern Oregon shrub-steppe ecosystem. Across species, survival rates were lowest between germination and emergence stages. However, perennial grass germination rates were highest when perennials were seeded with annual grasses in autumn. Perennial grass recruitment was generally low, especially when annual grass propagule pressure was higher than 150 seeds m−2. Although, by the second growing season, perennial grasses had the highest density when perennials were seeded with annuals in autumn and water was added. Consequently, modifying native perennial grass dispersal, like priority autumn seeding and increasing propagule pressure, should produce higher perennial grass recruitment across arid lands.