Skip to main content
ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #319303

Research Project: Innovative Technologies to Control Invasive Species that Impact Livestock

Location: Location not imported yet.

Title: Riparian soil seed banks and the potential for passive restoration of giant reed infested areas in Webb County, Texas

item RUBIO, AMEDE - Texas A&M University
item RACELIS, ALEX - University Of Texas
item VAUGHAN, THOMAS - Texas A&M University
item Goolsby, John

Submitted to: Ecological Restoration
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/15/2014
Publication Date: 12/1/2014
Publication URL:
Citation: Rubio, A., Racelis, A., Vaughan, T., Goolsby, J. 2014. Riparian soil seed banks and the potential for passive restoration of giant reed infested areas in Webb County, Texas. Ecological Restoration. 32(4):347-349.

Interpretive Summary: Arundo donax, aka giant reed or carrizo cane dominates the habitats along the Rio Grande River in Texas. This is especially true in Laredo, TX (Webb Co.). A biological control program using insects from the cane's native range in Spain is now having a significant impact on this invasive weed. Prior to release of the insects we conducted a study to determine if a robust seed bank existed in the stands A. donax growing along the Rio Grande. We identified seeds of 12 common native riparian species in the soil bank. We predicted that once the cane's dominance was weakened the native trees and shrubs would regrow and active restoration (planting of nursery grown plants) was not necessary. This type of seed bank survey is recommended for other restoration programs to determine if active restoration of the native plant community may be necessary.

Technical Abstract: Habitat restoration projects can use seed bank information as early warning systems of patterns or degrees of habitat degradation; as changes in above ground vegetation directly impact below ground seed distribution. In multiple strategy restoration efforts, seed bank quality can be used as a deciding factor in whether or not to incorporate costly re-vegetation or utilize alternative restoration methods. However, we show that even after a heavy infestation of giant reed, the presence of viable seeds indicate that soil seed banks have the potential to initiate passive restoration.