Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/15/2010
Publication Date: 6/12/2011
Citation: Svejcar, A.J. 2011. Arguments for a major research focus on seeding establishment and recruitment on rangelands [abstract]. Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts. Paper No. 0025.
Technical Abstract: Understanding vegetation change is the basis for much of the rangeland management profession. Yet we know little about seedling ecology, from the standpoint of either reseeding or natural recruitment. We often view vegetation over long time horizons to allow changes to manifest themselves. If we lack long-term observational data, it is often difficult to make predictions about vegetation trends based on population dynamics. Birth and death rates are used to model plant populations, just as they are with animal populations, but in general we know little about these variables for most rangeland plants. Our limited understanding of the factors controlling seedling establishment (and long term survival) makes it difficult to predict: 1) the probability of seeding and restoration success, 2) the influence of management on vegetation trends, 3) the impacts of invasive species management, and 4) the effects of climatic or resource shifts on vegetation patterns. A comprehensive research effort in this area will require studies of: 1) life history analysis (from seed to adulthood) of both desirable and undesirable species, 2) biotic and abiotic factors which influence survival (at different live stages), 3) weather and soil surface conditions during the establishment phase, and 4) management efforts which will help overcome the limitations to establishment. One caveat is that vegetative reproduction dominates some rangeland and riparian systems and in those cases the suggested research approach would have to be modified. The suggested research will help improve allocation of human and financial resources in rangeland reseeding and restoration projects.