Factors influencing germination and establishment of Arizona cottontop, bush muhly, and plains lovegrass in southern Arizona
Committee ChairRoundy, Bruce
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractGermination and establishment was evaluated in Arizona cottontop (Digitaria californica (Benth.) Chase), bush muhly (Muhlenbergia porteri Scribn.) and plains lovegrass (Eragrostis intermedia Hitchc.) from southern Arizona. Germination was determined in different aged seed harvested from native and irrigated plots of various populations. Results indicated variability in germination characteristics of study species that appeared unrelated to afterripening or dormancy. Germination ranged from 62 to 96% for Arizona cottontop, 34 to 99% for plains lovegrass, and 75 to 99% for bush muhly. Bush muhly had highest average velocity of germination (58.0 ± 4.1), followed by plains lovegrass (35.9 ± 1.91), and Arizona cottontop (31.4 ± 1.13). Effects of 3 surface treatments (furrows, gravel, litter) and 2 cultivation treatments on establishment of study species and yellow bluestem (Bothriochloa ischaemum (L.) Keng var. ischaemum) was investigated in the field. Bush muhly did not emerge and plains lovegrass had minimal emergence. Arizona cottontop had similar emergence in cultivated and uncultivated plots whereas yellow bluestem had greater emergence in cultivated plots. Litter promoted greater survival of Arizona cottontop. Lower survival in furrows may have resulted from fewer days with available soil moisture and interference from greater density of non-seeded species. Soil covers appear to positively influence survival rather than emergence. Effect of rainfall distribution on germination was investigated using 2 seed retrieval methods. Arizona cottontop and bush muhly germinated after at least 3 days of available soil moisture. Plains lovegrass seeds did not germinate in the field but retrieved seeds had 83% germination, possibly due to light exposure under laboratory conditions. Another study determined whether species have different density and cover under overstory species compared to open areas. Arizona cottontop had either greater, less, or no differences in density under canopied versus open areas. Cover of Arizona cottontop was greater or similar among canopied and open areas. Plains lovegrass had lower or similar density and cover under canopies than in open areas. Bush muhly had greater density and cover under canopies. Overall, studies suggested that species are easily germinated, but accept relatively narrow ranges of environmental conditions for establishment. Establishment may be enhanced by sowing species when rainfall is consistent, extending available moisture through use of soil covers, or mimicking microsites where a species occurs naturally.
Degree ProgramRenewable Natural Resources