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RMRS-RN-35: Estimating soil seed bank characteristics in ponderosa pine forests using vegetation and forest-floor data


Abella, Scott R.; Springer, Judith D. 2008. Estimating soil seed bank characteristics in ponderosa pine forests using vegetation and forest-floor data. Res. Note. RMRS-RN-35. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 7 p.

Soil seed banks are important for vegetation management because they contain propagules of species that may be considered desirable or undesirable for site colonization after management and disturbance events. Knowledge of seed bank size and composition before planning management activities facilitates proactive management by providing early alerts of exotic species presence and of abilities of seed banks to promote colonization by desirable species. We developed models in ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests in northern Arizona to estimate the size and richness of mineral soil seed banks using readily observable vegetation and forestfloor characteristics. Regression models using three or fewer predictors explained 41 to 59 percent of the variance in 0- to 2-inch (0- to 5-cm) seed densities of total and native perennial seed banks. Key predictors included aboveground plant species richness/10.8 ft2 (1 m2), litter weight and thickness, and tree canopy type (open or closed). Both total and native perennial seed banks were larger and richer in plots containing: (1) species-rich understories, (2) sparse litter, and (3) tree canopy openings. A regression tree model estimated that seed bank density of native perennials is 14-fold greater if aboveground plant richness exceeds eight species/10.8 ft2, forest-floor leaf litter is < 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick, and tree canopies are open.

Keywords: soil seed bank, vegetation, forest-floor data, models, ponderosa pine forests, Pinus ponderosa, northern Arizona


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Title: RMRS-RN-35: Estimating soil seed bank characteristics in ponderosa pine forests using vegetation and forest-floor data
Electronic Publish Date: September 30, 2008
Last Update:
September 30, 2008

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