The University of Arizona

Plant-animal interactions affecting plant establishment and persistence on revegetated rangeland.

S. Archer, D.A. Pyke

Abstract


The role of ungulate grazing in shaping rangeland ecosystems is well known relative to other important plant-animal interactions such as pollination, seed dispersal, granivory, and belowground herbivory. Successful rangeland revegetation may be enhanced by strategies that favor certain groups of animals and discourage others. Many perennial forbs and shrubs require animals for successful pollination, reproduction, and subsequent maintenance of species on a site; however, pollination biology of many rangeland plants and pollinator abundances at potential revegetation sites are largely unknown. Granivory may be significant in some locations and planning and design of revegetation areas may be improved by implementing principles of seed escape mechanisms, such as predator satiation, seed escape in space (low perimeter-to-area ratio for revegetation site), and seed escape in time (synchronous or staggered timing for nearby revegetation sites). Seedling establishment may be associated with invertebrate population levels which need to be considered in future revegetation projects. Timing and site preparation are important in limiting belowground herbivory. Animals can serve as dispersal agents of seeds. Livestock dosed with desirable seeds can disperse them in their dung across the landscape, thereby creating patches of desirable plants. If revegetation sites will be grazed by livestock, then managers should choose plant species that tolerate rather than avoid grazing and should apply adequate management to establish and maintain plant populations. Seeds inoculated with mutualistic species such as mycorrhizae, nitrogen-fixing bacteria, or actinomycetes may enhance establishment, productivity, and nutrient quality of rangeland species while increasing rates of succession.

Keywords


seed dispersal;plant ecology;land restoration;rangelands

Full Text:

PDF