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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Seed Islands May Promote Establishment and Expansion of Native Species in Reclaimed Mine Sites (Montana)

Authors
item Reever Morghan, Kimberly
item Sheley, Roger
item Denny, Marcus - NORTHERN CHEYENNE RESERVA
item Pokorny, Monica - CTR FOR INVASIVE PLANT MG

Submitted to: Ecological Restoration
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 1, 2005
Publication Date: September 1, 2005
Citation: Reever Morghan, K.J., Sheley, R.L., Denny, M.K., Pokorny, M.L. 2005. Seed islands may promote establishment and expansion of native species in reclaimed mine sites (Montana). Ecological Restoration. 23(3): 214-215.

Interpretive Summary: Interpretive Summary: Restoring native plant communities can be expensive and labor-intensive. However, “island seeding” may allow us to more easily add additional species to a restored site. Island seeding involves creating small, dense patches of native species, and then allowing the plants in these dense patches to naturally disperse themselves out into the landscape over time. We tested island seeding using three native species. After years three and four, we mapped the plants and found that two of the three species had successfully dispersed outside of the seed islands, so the plants did spread naturally using this technique. We conclude that island seeding can be used as an inexpensive and easy way to add additional native species to restoration sites.

Technical Abstract: Technical Abstract: Restoring diverse native plant communities to sites with histories of extensive disturbance can be a challenge. Native seeds are often costly, and it can also be difficult to find enough locally-adapted seed to restore a diverse community of native plants to a large site. One way to address these challenges is called “island seeding”. Small islands densely seeded with desired native plants are established in a site, and natural seed dispersal allows these plants to colonize the area surrounding the islands. In 1999, at a reclaimed coal mine site in Montana, we created islands of three native species: narrow-leaved coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia), white sagebrush (Artemisia ludoviciana), or large Indian breadroot (Pediomelum esculentum). In 2002 and 2003 we mapped the locations of recruits of these species outside of the islands. We measured the number of recruit patches and the distance from each recruit patch to the nearest seed island. We found no recruits of breadroot, but coneflower and sagebrush both recruited successfully outside of the seed islands. There was no difference in the number of recruits between 2002 and 2003 for either coneflower or sagebrush. The distance from a seed island to the sagebrush recruits did not change between years, but coneflower seeds traveled significantly farther in 2003 than in 2002. We conclude that, at least for some species, island seeding may be an effective technique for creating diverse native communities with a minimum of cost and effort.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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