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Effects on vegetative restoration of two treatments: erosion matting and supplemental rock cover in the alpine ecosystem

Jarret W. Roberts, Tim R. Seastedt
Restoration ecology 2019 v.27 no.6 pp. 1339-1347
Deschampsia cespitosa, Festuca brachyphylla, Poa alpina, Poa glauca, Trisetum, drainage, ecosystems, grasses, indigenous species, land restoration, soil, sowing, streams, vascular plants, vegetation cover, water erosion, Colorado
Unsanctioned travel routes through alpine ecosystems can influence water drainage patterns, cause sedimentation of streams, and erode soils. These disturbed areas can take decades to revegetate. In 2012, a volunteer‐driven project restored a 854‐m section of unsanctioned road along the Continental Divide in Colorado, United States. The restored area was seeded with three native grass species and then treated by installing erosion matting or adding supplemental rock cover. Four years later, results suggest that the seeding along with the use of erosion matting or supplemental rock can enhance revegetation. Matting appeared to accumulate litter, and this effect might have contributed to enhanced moisture retention. Treated areas contained 40% of the vegetation cover found on adjacent controls, which averaged 69% vascular plant absolute cover. Recovery on both treatments was markedly higher than published estimates of passive revegetation of disturbed areas measured elsewhere suggesting seeding with added cover or protection led to substantial vegetative cover after 4 years. Two of the 3 seeded grass species, Trisetum spicatum and Poa alpina, dominated the restored plots, composing 81.7% of relative vegetation cover on matting sites and 73.4% of relative cover on rock‐supplemented areas. Presumably due to its preference for moister sites, Deschampsia cespitosa had low establishment rates. Volunteer species, that is species that appeared on their own, contributed 6.3% to the absolute vegetation cover of matting and rock sites, and species such as Minuartia biflora, Minuartia obtusiloba, Poa glauca, and Festuca brachyphylla should be considered for use in future restorations.