Submitted to: Wildland Shrub Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: May 1, 2003
Publication Date: February 1, 2004
Citation: Blank, R.R., Young, J.A. 2004. Revegetation of saline playa margins. In: Seed and Soil Dynamics in Shrubland Ecosystems. Wildland Shrub Symposium Proceedings. p. 37-39. Interpretive Summary: Along playa margins, recruitment of desirable shrubs is hindered by salt content too high for seed germination. We determined that creating small depressions on the soil surface provides favorable microsites for shrub establishment. Mechanistically, the shallow depressions capture eolian dust which provide a low salt content substrate for seed germination.
Technical Abstract: New shrub recruitment in saline playa margins is limited by extremely high osmotic potentials of the seedbed. In the Eagle Valley playa near Fernley NV, recruitment is rare and occurs mostly in recently deposited eolian and flood-deposited sediments of low osmotic potential. In most instances, however, sediment is of insufficient thickness to support long-term growth. In 1990, as part of a plant/soil relationship study in the eastern end of Eagle Valley playa, seven soil pits were excavated by backhoe in an environment consisting of mounds occupied by Sarcobatus vermiculatus, Atriplex torreyi, and Allenrolfea occidentalis amid unvegetated interspaces. Soil pits were refilled, but depressions about 2 by 1/2 meter in area to a depth of between 20 and 60 cm remained. Within three years, a thick veneer of eolian dust had accumulated in all the pits and supported robust recruitment of S. vermiculatus, A. torreyi, and A. occidentalis. By the year 2000, some shrubs were over 1/2 meter in stature. Excavating small depressions in saline playa environments appears to be an effective revegetation technology provided the area has a source of low osmotic potential eolian material.