Aboveground vegetation and perennial grass seed bank in arid rangelands disturbed by grazing
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CitationBertiller, M. B., & Carrera, A. L. (2015). Aboveground vegetation and perennial grass seed bank in arid rangelands disturbed by grazing. Rangeland Ecology & Management, 68(1), 71–78.
PublisherSociety for Range Management
JournalRangeland Ecology & Management
AbstractRecruitment by seeds can be an important mechanism for recovery of plant communities following disturbance. Our objective was to assess the density and spatial patterning of perennial grass (highly preferred by herbivores) seeds in litter patches at locations with different aboveground vegetation structure in sites with different grazing history characteristic of the Patagonian Monte (Argentina). We asked whether structural differences in aboveground vegetation are reflected in the density and spatial patterning of perennial grass seeds in litter patches. We selected two study sites characteristic of the Patagonian Monte and within them three locations representing different vegetation states, resulting from different combinations of grazing and/or release from grazing history. At each location, we assessed the density of perennial grass seeds in litter patches at microsites beneath plant patches (canopy) and in interpatch areas without or with scattered vegetation (bare soil) at three dates during the reproductive and seed dispersal periods. The density of perennial grass seeds in litter patches was greater at canopy than at bare soil microsites, and the number of litter patches without seeds increased with decreasing total plant cover at both microsites. The density of perennial grass seeds in litter patches did not vary with differences in total plant cover or litter patch attributes at canopy microsites, while it was reduced with decreasing total plant cover at bare soil microsites. We concluded that differences in aboveground plant cover differentially affected the density of perennial grass seeds in litter patches at contrasting soil microsites. Thus potential microsites for perennial grass recruitment by seeds would increase from litter patches at bare soil microsites to litter patches at canopy microsites at locations with high and low aboveground plant cover, respectively. These issues should be considered for the sustainable management of these rangelands. © 2015 Society for Range Management. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.