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Variation in exotic and native seed arrival and recruitment of bird dispersed species in subtropical forest restoration and regrowth

Abstract

Invasive bird-dispersed plants often share the same suite of dispersers as co-occurring native species, resulting in a complex management issue. Integrated management strategies could incorporate manipulation of dispersal or establishment processes. To improve our understanding of these processes, we quantified seed rain, recruit and seed bank density, and species richness for bird-dispersed invasive and native species in three early successional subtropical habitats in eastern Australia: tree regrowth, shrub regrowth and native restoration plantings. We investigated the effects of environmental factors (leaf area index (LAI), distance to edge, herbaceous ground cover and distance to nearest neighbour) on seed rain, seed bank and recruit abundance. Propagule availability was not always a good predictor of recruitment. For instance, although native tree seed rain density was similar, and species richness was higher, in native plantings, compared with tree regrowth, recruit density and species richness were lower. Native plantings also received lower densities of invasive tree seed rain than did tree regrowth habitats, but supported a similar density of invasive tree recruits. Invasive shrub seed rain was recorded in highest densities in shrub regrowth sites, but recruit density was similar between habitats. We discuss the role of microsite characteristics in influencing post-dispersal processes and recruit composition, and suggest ways of manipulating these processes as part of an integrated management strategy for bird-dispersed weeds in natural areas.

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Acknowledgements

S. Heuston, S. Jackson, P. Parrington, J. Morris, J. Rankin, Rous Water, and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service provided access to their land. Land care practitioners T. Roberts, D. Bailey, R. Woodford and L. Gander assisted with plant identification. W. Neilan, H. Bower and D. Rankin from Byron Shire Council and J. Kanowski and C. Catterall of Griffith University provided research advice. S. Harvey, J. McCarthy, A. Dimmock and M. Landos provided technical assistance. Thanks to D. Mayer for performing data analyses and D. Panetta and two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments on the manuscript. This study was funded by the Cooperative Research Centre for Australian Weed Management and Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries.

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Correspondence to Eve White.

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White, E., Vivian-Smith, G. & Barnes, A. Variation in exotic and native seed arrival and recruitment of bird dispersed species in subtropical forest restoration and regrowth. Plant Ecol 204, 231–246 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11258-009-9587-2

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Keywords

  • Dispersal
  • Fleshy-fruited species
  • Invasive plant
  • Rainforest
  • Succession
  • Seed bank
  • Seed rain
  • Weed management