Oecologia

, Volume 108, Issue 4, pp 652–662

Revegetation following soil disturbance in a California meadow: the role of propagule supply

  • Peter M. Kotanen
Population Ecology

Abstract

Revegetation following a disturbance event initially should be constrained by the abundance and types of propagules available at the disturbed site. I tested this idea by conducting two experiments in which I created artificial soil disturbances by excavating or burying pre-existing grassland vegetation. In the first experiment, I varied disturbance intensity (depth), to investigate the consequences for revegetation when numbers of surviving propagules (dormant seeds and bulbs) were altered. In the second experiment, I varied the timing of disturbance, to investigate the consequences when disturbed sites experienced differing exposures to seasonal patterns of clonal growth and seed dispersal. I sampled these experiments from 1991 to 1993, and have interpreted their results using measurements of the seed bank, the bulb bank, and the seed rain. In the first (depth) experiment, bulbs declined in abundance with burial depth and were scarcer in deeper excavations. In contrast, numbers of annual graminoids initially showed no trends with respect to disturbance depth. These results reflect the depth distributions of the seed and bulb banks. Since bulbs occur deeply in the soil, progressively deeper disturbances left fewer survivors. Similarly, perennial graminoids could grow through the shallowest burials. In contrast, since the annual-graminoid-dominated seed bank is concentrated near the soil surface, disturbance depth mattered less to these species: any disturbance removing the surface layer was equally destructive. In the second (timing) experiment, more annual graminoids initially occurred in older plots. This result reflects seasonal patterns of seed production: plots exposed to more of the annual-graminoid-dominated seed rain supported higher densities of annual graminoids as a result. In subsequent years, the vegetation of most plots in both experiments was increasingly dominated by annual graminoids, again as a consequence of their great abundance in the seed rain. These results indicate that interactions between soil disturbances and sources of propagules play an important role in controlling early stages of succession in newly created gaps. They also suggest that disturbance may play different roles in communities characterized by species with different reproductive strategies. Understanding sources of colonists will improve our ability to predict the effects of disturbance.

Key words

Disturbance Grasslands Seed bank Seed rain Succession 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Armesto JJ, Pickett STA (1985) Experiments on disturbance in old-field plant communities: impact on species richness and abundance. Ecology 66: 230–240Google Scholar
  2. Arnthórsdóttir S (1994) Colonization of experimental patches in mown grassland. Oikos 70: 73–79Google Scholar
  3. Bartolome JW (1979) Germination and seedling establishment in California annual grassland. J Ecol 67: 273–281Google Scholar
  4. Bartolome JW (1989) Local temporal and spatial structure. In: Huenneke LF, Mooney H (eds) Grassland structure and function: California annual grassland. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 73–80Google Scholar
  5. Bartolome JW, Stroud MC, Heady HF (1980) Influence of natural mulch on forage production on differing California annual range sites. J Range Manage 33: 4–8Google Scholar
  6. Baskin JM, Baskin CC (1989) Physiology of dormancy and germination in relation to seed bank ecology. In: Leck MA, Parker VT, Simpson RL (eds) Ecology of soil seed banks. Academic Press, San Diego, pp 53–66Google Scholar
  7. Belsky AJ (1986a) Revegetation of artificial disturbances in grasslands of the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. I. Colonization of grazed and ungrazed plots. J Ecol 74: 419–437Google Scholar
  8. Belsky AJ (1986b) Revegetation of artificial disturbances in grasslands of the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. II. Five years of successional change. J Ecol 74: 937–951Google Scholar
  9. Belsky AJ (1992) Effects of grazing, competition, disturbance and fire on species composition and diversity in grassland communities. J Veg Sci 3: 187–200Google Scholar
  10. Bergelson J, Newman JA, Floresroux EM (1993) Rates of weed spread in spatially heterogeneous environments. Ecology 74: 999–1101Google Scholar
  11. Bullock JM, Clear Hill B, Dale MP, Silvertown J (1994) An experimental study of the effects of sheep grazing on vegetation change in a species-poor grassland and the role of seedling recruitment into gaps. J Appl Ecol 31: 493–507Google Scholar
  12. Bullock JM, Clear Hill B, Silvertown J, Sutton M (1995) Gap colonization as a source of community change: effects of gap size and grazing on the rate and mode of colonization by different species. Oikos 72: 273–282Google Scholar
  13. Busing RT, Clebsch EEC (1983) Species composition and species richness in first-year old fields: responses to season of soil disturbance. Bull Torrey Bot Club 110: 304–310Google Scholar
  14. Chambers JC, MacMahon JA (1994) A day in the life of a seed: movements and fates of seeds and their implications in natural and managed systems. Annu Rev Ecol Sys 25: 263–292Google Scholar
  15. Chiariello NR (1989) Phenology of California grasslands. In: Huenneke LF, Mooney H (eds) Grassland structure and function: California annual grassland. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 47–58Google Scholar
  16. Coffin DP, Lauenroth WK (1989) Small scale disturbances and successional dynamics in a shortgrass plant community: interactions of disturbance characteristics. Phytologia 67: 258–286Google Scholar
  17. Connell JH, Slatyer RO (1977) Mechanisms of succession in natural communities and their role in community stability and organization. Am Nat 111: 1119–1144Google Scholar
  18. Davis MB (1989) Lags in vegetation response to global warming. Clim Change 15: 75–82Google Scholar
  19. Day RW, Quinn GP (1989) Comparisons of treatments after an analysis of variance in ecology. Ecol Monogr 59: 433–463Google Scholar
  20. Denslow JS (1985) Disturbance-mediated coexistence of species. In: Pickett STA White PS (eds) The ecology of natural disturbance and patch dynamics. Academic Press, Orlando, pp 307–323Google Scholar
  21. Fenner M (1985) Seed ecology. Chapman and Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  22. Fenner M (ed) (1992) Seeds: The ecology of regeneration in plant communities. CAB International, WallingfordGoogle Scholar
  23. Goldberg DE, Gross KL (1988) Disturbance regimes of midsuccessional oldfields. Ecology 69: 1677–1688Google Scholar
  24. Grime JP, Hodgson JG, Hunt R (1988) Comparative plant ecology. Unwin Hyman, LondonGoogle Scholar
  25. Gross KL (1980) Colonization of Verbascum thapsus (mullein) of an old-field in Michigan: experiments on the effects of vegetation. J Ecol 68: 919–927Google Scholar
  26. Gross KL (1990) A comparison of methods for estimating seed numbers in the soil. J Ecol 78: 1079–1093Google Scholar
  27. Gross KL, Werner PA (1982) Colonizing abilities of “biennial” plant species in relation to ground cover: implications for their distributions in a successional sere. Ecology 63: 921–931Google Scholar
  28. Harper JL (1977) Population biology of plants. Academic Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  29. Heady HF (1956) Changes in a California annual plant community induced by manipulation of natural mulch. Ecology 37: 798–812Google Scholar
  30. Heady HF (1958) Vegetational changes in the California annual type. Ecology 39: 402–416Google Scholar
  31. Heady HF (1988) Valley grassland. In: Barbour MG, Major J (eds) Terrestrial vegetation of California. Wiley, New York, pp 491–514Google Scholar
  32. Heady HF, Foin TC, Kektner JJ, Taylor DW, Barbour MG, Berry, WJ (1988) Coastal prairie and northern coastal scrub. In: Barbour, MG, Major J (eds) Terrestrial vegetation of California. Wiley, New York, pp 733–760Google Scholar
  33. Heady HF, Bartolome JW, Pitt MD, Savelle GD, Stroud MC (1992) California prairie. In: RT Coupland (ed), Ecosystems of the World 8A: natural grasslands. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 313–335Google Scholar
  34. Hickman JC (ed) (1993) The Jepson manual: higher plants of California. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  35. Hobbs RJ, Huenneke LF (1992) Disturbance, diversity, and invasion: implications for conservation. Conserv Biol 6: 324–337Google Scholar
  36. Hobbs RJ, Mooney HA (1985) Community and population dynamics of serpentine grassland annuals in relation to gopher disturbance. Oecologia 67: 342–351Google Scholar
  37. Hobbs RJ, Mooney HA (1991) Effects of rainfall variability and gopher disturbance on serpentine annual grassland dynamics. Ecology 72: 59–68Google Scholar
  38. Huntly N, Inouye R (1988) Pocket gophers in ecosystems: patterns and mechanisms. Bioscience 38: 786–793Google Scholar
  39. Huston MA (1994) Biological diversity: the coexistence of species on changing landscapes. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  40. Johnson S (1979) The land-use history of the Coast Range Preserve, Mendocino County, California. MSc Thesis, State University, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  41. Kirk RE (1982) Experimental design: procedures for the behavioural sciences, 2nd edn. Brooks and Cole, MontereyGoogle Scholar
  42. Kotanen PM (1994a) Revegetation of meadows disturbed by feral pigs (Sus scrofa L.) in Mendocino County, California. PhD Thesis, University of California, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  43. Kotanen PM (1994b) Effects of feral pigs on grasslands. Fremontia 22: 14–17Google Scholar
  44. Kotanen PM (1995) Responses of vegetation to a changing regime of disturbance: effects of feral pigs in a Californian coastal prairie. Ecography 18: 190–199Google Scholar
  45. Lavorel S, Lepart J, Debussche M, Lebreton J-D, Beffy J-L (1994) Small scale disturbances and the maintenance of species diversity in Mediterranean old fields. Oikos 70: 455–473Google Scholar
  46. Leck MA, Parker VT, Simpson RL (eds) (1989) Ecology of soil seed banks. Academic Press, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  47. Malanson GP (1984) Intensity as a third factor of disturbance regime and its effect on species diversity. Oikos 43: 411–413Google Scholar
  48. Marks PL, Mohler CL (1985) Succession after elimination of buried seeds from a recently plowed field. Bull Torrey Bot Club 112: 376–382Google Scholar
  49. McIntyre S, Lavorel S, Tremont RM (1995) Plant life-history attributes: their relationship to disturbance response in herbaceous vegetation. J Ecol 83: 31–44Google Scholar
  50. Niehaus TF (1971) A biosystematic study of the genus Brodiaea (Amaryllidaceae). Univ California Publ Bot 60: 1–66Google Scholar
  51. Peart DR (1989a) Species interactions in a successional grassland. I. Seed rain and seedling recruitment. J Ecol 77: 236–251Google Scholar
  52. Peart DR (1989b) Species interactions in a successional grassland. II. Effects of canopy gaps, gopher mounds and grazing on colonization. J Ecol 77: 267–289Google Scholar
  53. Perozzi RE, Bazzaz FA (1978) The response of an early successional community to shortened growing season. Oikos 31: 89–93Google Scholar
  54. Pickett STA, White PS (eds) (1985) The ecology of natural disturbance and patch dynamics. Academic Press, OrlandoGoogle Scholar
  55. Pitt MD, Heady HF (1978) Responses of annual vegetation to temperature and rainfall patterns in northern California. Ecology 59: 336–350Google Scholar
  56. Platt WJ (1975) The colonization and formation of equilibrium plant species associations on badger disturbances in a tallgrass prairie. Ecol Monogr 45: 285–305Google Scholar
  57. Platt WJ, Weis IM (1977) Resource partitioning and competition within a guild of fugitive prairie plants. Am Nat 111: 479–513Google Scholar
  58. Rabinowitz D, Rapp JK (1985) Colonization and establishment of Missouri prairie plants on artificial soil disturbances. II. Detecting small-scale plant-to-plant interactions and separating disturbance from resource provision. Am J Bot 72: 1629–1634Google Scholar
  59. Rapp JK, Rabinowitz D (1985) Colonization and establishment of Missouri prairie plants on artificial soil disturbances. I. Dynamics of forb and graminoid seedlings and shoots. Am J Bot 72: 1618–1628Google Scholar
  60. Rice KJ (1989) Impacts of seed banks on grassland community structure and population dynamics. In: Leck MA, Parker VT, Simpson RL (eds) Ecology of soil seed banks. Academic Press, San Diego, pp 211–230Google Scholar
  61. Roberts HA (1981) Seed banks in soils. Adv Appl Biol 6: 1–55Google Scholar
  62. Sokal RR, Rohlf FJ (1981) Biometry, 2nd edn. Freeman, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  63. Sousa WP (1984) The role of disturbance in natural communities. Annu Rev Ecol Sys 15: 353–391Google Scholar
  64. Thompson K (1992) The functional ecology of seed banks. In: Fenner M (ed) Seeds: the ecology of regeneration in plant communities. CAB International, Wallingford, pp 231–258Google Scholar
  65. Tilman D (1983) Plant succession and gopher disturbance along an experimental gradient. Oecologia 60: 285–292Google Scholar
  66. Underwood AJ, Denley EJ (1984) Paradigms, explanations and generalizations in models for the structure of intertidal communities on rocky shores. In: Strong DR, Simberloff D, Abele LG, Thistle AB (eds) Ecological communities: conceptual issues and the evidence Princeton University Press, Princeton, pp 151–180Google Scholar
  67. White PS (1979) Patterns, process, and natural disturbance in vegetation. Bot Rev 45: 229–299Google Scholar
  68. Young JA, Evans RA (1989) Seed production and germination dynamics in California annual grasslands. In: Huenneke LF, Mooney H (eds) Grassland structure and function: California annual grassland. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 39–45Google Scholar
  69. Young JA, Evans RA, Raguse CA, Larson JR (1981) Germinable seeds and periodicity of germination in annual grasslands. Hilgardia 49: 1–37Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter M. Kotanen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Integrative BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Botany, Erindale CollegeUniversity of TorontoMississaugaCanada

Personalised recommendations