, Volume 60, Issue 2, pp 149-155

The effects of size of opening in vegetation and litter cover on seedling establishment of goldenrods (Solidago spp.)

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Abstract

We investigated the effects of size of opening in the vegetation and litter cover on seedling establishment of two species of goldenrods (Solidago spp.) in an abandoned field in southwestern Michigan, U.S.A. Seeds of S. canadensis and S. juncea were sown into clipped plots, ranging from 0 cm (control, unclipped) to 100 cm in diameter, with and without litter. Seedling emergence, survival and growth were followed for one year. Soil moisture was not significantly different among the opening sizes, but, within a size, tended to be lower when litter was removed. Light intensity at the soil surface was positively related to opening size early in the growing season, but later in the growing season reached a maximum in intermediate-sized openings and then leveled off.

Litter strongly inhibited seedling emergence in both species. Emergence of S. canadensis seedlings was lower in 0 and 10 cm openings than in the larger openings, while emergence of S. juncea seedlings was lower in the largest openings (100 cm) than in all the smaller openings. In contrast, seedling growth and probability of survival increased with diameter of opening for both species. Some seedlings of S. juncea did survive in complete vegetation cover (controls, 0 cm openings) while seedlings of S. canadensis survived only in openings of at least 30 cm diameter. Thus, S. juncea had a smaller minimum opening size for seedling establishment than S. canadensis, although both species grew and survived best in the largest openings made in the experiment.