, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 75-88

Reinvasion of a Riparian Forest Community by an Animal-dispersed Tree Weed Following Control Measures

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Abstract

Patterns of seed dispersal and the effects of mulching upon Celtis sinensis Pers. seedling establishment were investigated following the removal of this tree weed from a riparian forest community. At the commencement of the study there was virtually no representation of C. sinensis in the soil seed bank. However, subsequent rates of seed immigration were high since mature individuals of C. sinensis remained on the boundary of the site. Fruit bats (Pteropus spp.) were the principal dispersal vectors. Seed rain density of C. sinensis was best fitted by an inverse power distribution, with seed densities in excess of 20 m−2 detected at 70 m from the seed source. Extrapolation from this relationship suggested that a site would have to be more than 350 m from a seed source to reduce the C. sinensis seed rain to less than 1 m−2. More than 98% of the seed rain occurred below the canopies of the native tree species that remained following the removal of C. sinensis. For these trees, subarboreal C. sinensis seed distributions were not homogeneous, with peak seed densities occurring at different distances from tree trunks in each of the two years that seed distributions were assessed. Mulching with compacted sugar cane trash, corresponding to litter loadings of 6–12 kg m−2, was imposed early in the study, some weeks before the C. sinensis seed rain commenced. These treatments had no measurable effect upon C. sinensis germination, but substantially reduced seedling survival and had variable effects upon the early growth of seedlings. The potential roles of seed limitation vs establishment limitation are discussed in relation to the management of animal-dispersed invasive species. It is argued that an understanding of the likely levels and patterns of invasion is essential for the formulation of management strategies that can effectively reduce the invasion and impacts of these plants.

This revised version was published online in July 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.