Plant Ecology

, Volume 215, Issue 9, pp 977–986

Belowground bud production is linked to population establishment in Sorghastrum nutans (Poaceae)


DOI: 10.1007/s11258-014-0353-8

Cite this article as:
Carter, D.L. & VanderWeide, B.L. Plant Ecol (2014) 215: 977. doi:10.1007/s11258-014-0353-8


Belowground bud production mediates many responses of tallgrass prairie grasses to temporal environmental variation, and clonal spread contributes to dominance in successional plant communities. However, we know little about the importance of these regenerative traits for vegetation establishment in grassland restoration and about their regional variability. Further, geographic seed or transplant sources affect plant performance. We investigated the effects of seed source on the number of belowground buds per tiller, clonal spread (total rhizome length adjusted for plant biomass), and population establishment in the native C4 grass Sorghastrum nutans sown into tallgrass prairie restorations using reciprocal common gardens in three sites (in Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma). We characterized buds per tiller and clonal spread at the plant level and related both traits to population establishment at the restoration plot level. Plant-level bud production significantly differed among seed sources and common garden sites, and was positively associated with plot-level establishment (density and canopy cover), but plant-level clonal spread did not differ among seed sources or common garden sites and was not associated with the plot-level establishment. Our results are among the first to link bud production, which varied among source populations, to differences in plant population establishment. These results suggest that we should more often consider differences among sources in traits closely tied to post-seeding population establishment. The use of sources that possess such traits may facilitate successful establishment in restoration settings.


Belowground budBud bankClonalVegetativeLocal adaptationCommon gardenRhizomeProvenanceTallgrassDispersalRestorationSorghastrum nutans

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of BiologyKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA
  2. 2.Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning CommissionWaukeshaUSA