Available water influences field germination and recruitment of seeded grasses
choice of species
soil water content
Eragrostis lehanniana X tricophera
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CitationAbbott, L. B., & Roundy, B. A. (2003). Available water influences field germination and recruitment of seeded grasses. Journal of Range Management, 56(1), 56-64.
PublisherSociety for Range Management
JournalJournal of Range Management
AbstractPeriodic summer rainstorms in some semi-arid regions result in variable soil moisture and differential establishment of seeded species. A 2-year study investigated soil water effects on germination and survival of 6 native and 2 non-native southwestern U.S. grass species. Bags of seeds were buried and retrieved before and during the summer rainy season. High field germination in seed bags (20-100%) and limited germination in the laboratory of seeds that were ungerminated in seedbags (0-45%) were exhibited by 6 native grasses following initial rainfall events in which the surface soil was saturated for 2 days or water potential (1-3 cm depth) was above -1.5 MPa for more than 9 days. Fewer Lehmann lovegrass (Eragrostis lehmanniana Nees) seeds germinated in response to initial and subsequent rainfall events (0-49%), but this species retained more residual germinable seeds (49-99%) than all other species studied. For 2 sowing dates, the soil drying front exceeded estimated seminal root depth 13 days after germination. Lack of recruitment for some species sown on these dates was probably due to seedling desiccation before adventitious roots had sufficient time to develop. The ability of Lehmann lovegrass to retain a viable seedbank when rainstorms are separated by long dry periods allows it to establish better than some native grasses that germinate quickly and are then subject to seedling desiccation. During a summer with more consistent rainfall, native species recruitment was greatest when seeds were planted during, rather than before the summer rainy season.
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Plant structure and the acceptability of different grasses to sheepO'Reagain, P. J. (Society for Range Management, 1993-05-01)Plant structure should be an important determinant of species acceptability to grazing ungulates functioning under various time-energy constraints. The acceptability of 9 grasses to sheep grazing a secondary grassland community in spring, summer, and autumn in South Africa was related to the following species attributes: plant height, leaf table height, tussock diameter, stemminess, percent leaf, leaf density, percent dry matter (DM), leaf tensile strength, and leaf crude protein (CP). Species acceptability over the grazing season was positively related to tussock diameter (P less than or equal to 0.05) but negatively related (P less than or equal to 0.01) to leaf tensile strength and DM. Discriminant function analysis successfully discriminated between species in different acceptability classes in summer (P less than or equal to 0.05) and autumn (P less than or equal to 0.01) using a combination of plant structure and leaf quality attributes. Correspondence analysis indicated that preferred species were generally short and nonstemmy and had leaves of low DM, low tensile strength, and high crude protein content. Conversely, avoided species tended to be tall and stemmy with a high leaf table height, and had leaves of high DM and tensile strength but low CP levels. It is concluded that, for sheep, acceptability is determined by a combination of plant structure and leaf quality attributes.
Characterization of seed germination and seedling survival during the initial wet-dry periods following plantingFrasier, G. W. (Society for Range Management, 1989-07-01)Combined greenhouse, laboratory, and field studies were conducted to develop techniques which could be used to characterize seed germination and seedling survival of a plant species when subjected to various wet-dry watering sequences following seeding. A procedure was developed to utilize daily seedling count data to estimate the minimum number of seeds which germinate under specific wet-dry watering sequences. These seed germination percentages are used to adjust laboratory/greenhouse results to more accurately predict field results. Results showed no consistent relationships or patterns between germination percentages derived from filter paper experiments and percentages obtained from the seedling count procedure. The germination percentages, determined from seedling emergence data, were used to normalize seedling survival numbers for 3 wet-dry watering sequences determined in greenhouse experiments. With the adjustment for actual seed germination rates occurring in the greenhouse and field, the number of seedlings surviving the wet-dry watering sequences in the greenhouse could be used to estimate the number of seedling surviving the same watering sequences in the field.
Laboratory germination responses of 3 love-grasses to temperature in relation to seedbed temperatureRoundy, B. A.; Young, J. A.; Sumrall, L. B.; Livingston, M. (Society for Range Management, 1992-05-01)Laboratory tests are often conducted to determine seed germination responses to temperatures for seedbed ecology interpretations and revegetation seeding rate calculations. To determine the utility of laboratory germination tests for indicating seedbank germinability of lovegrasses we measured seedbed temperatures and soil water on 2 semidesert grassland sites in the Southwest. We also tested germination of Lehmann lovegrass (Eragrostis lehmanniana Nees), 'Cochise' lovegrass (E. lehmanniana Nees X E. trichophora Coss & Dur.), and plains lovegrass (E. intermedia Hitch.) seed collections associated with natural or artificial revegetation studies on these 2 sites in relation to an array of constant and alternating temperatures. Germination responses to different temperatures varied with the year and source of collection and seed age and differed compared to those reported in the literature. Lehmann and Cochise lovegrass had high germination at temperature alternations similar to wet seedbed temperature extremes in December (0,2/15 degrees C) and these species and plains lovegrass were germinable at moderate temperature alternations representative of wet seedbeds in April (10/30 degrees C). Ability to germinate in laboratory tests at these temperatures is not necessarily indicative of germinability in the field for Lehmann lovegrass, which has been observed to germinate in April, not December, in wet seedbeds. All species had maximum or near maximum germination at a temperature alternation of 20/40 degrees C, which is similar to wet seedbed temperature extremes during the summer rainy period when these species usually emerge. Because of the variability in germinability of different seed collections of lovegrass over time, specific collections should be tested at specific ages relevant to seedbed ecology and revegetation studies or projects. Laboratory germination tests which mimic actual wet seedbed temperature curves might be more predictive of seedbed germinability than the usual tests which expose the seeds to abrupt temperature alternations.