Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Wind Erosion and Water Conservation Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #343639

Title: Soil seed banks in stock-piled topsoils in the western Rio Grande Plains, Texas

item LOVELL, MYLEA - Texas A&M University
item RIDEOUT-HANZAK, SANDRA - Texas A&M University
item RUPPERT, DAVID - Texas A&M University
item Acosta-Martinez, Veronica
item SMITH, FORREST - Texas A&M University
item MAYWALD-STUMBERG, PAULA - Land Stewardship Project
item PAWELEK, KEITH - Texas A&M University
item FALK, ANTHONY - Texas A&M University
item WESTER, DAVID - Texas A&M University

Submitted to: Ecological Restoration
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/29/2018
Publication Date: 9/1/2018
Citation: Lovell, M.C., Rideout-Hanzak, S., Ruppert, D.E., Acosta Martinez, V., Smith, F.S., Maywald-Stumberg, P., Pawelek, K.A., Falk, A.D., Wester, D.B. 2018. Soil seed banks in stock-piled topsoils in the western Rio Grande Plains, Texas. Ecological Restoration. Vol.36 Pg 3.

Interpretive Summary: Top soils are often removed from oil and gas drilling sites and stored in stock-piles for future use in restoration activities in the Eagle Ford Shale region of south Texas. Top soils tend to have a reservoir of seeds. However, it is unknown how the reservoir of seeds changes in stock-piled top soils compared to the undisturbed soil. Scientists from Texas A&M (Kingsville, TX) and ARS (Lubbock, TX) evaluated the seed-bank characteristics of stock-piled top soils in sites located in the western Rio Grande Plains of Texas. Stock-piled top soil had sufficient seeds for restoration activities without the need of additional seed input. These results are of interest to oil and gas drilling companies as well as land owners.

Technical Abstract: Topsoils are often removed from energy production sites and stored in stock-piles for use later in restoration activities in the Eagle Ford Shale region of south Texas. Effects of this practice on soil seed banks are unknown. We examined seed bank size, species richness and species composition of stock-piled topsoils as affected by sampling depth and stock-pile age at two study sites in the western Rio Grande Plains, TX. Stock-piled topsoil and adjacent non-disturbed topsoil samples were collected at 0-10, 10-20, 20-30 and 30-40 cm depths on five dates over an 18-month period following stock-pile construction. Seed banks were assessed with the seedling emergence method. Stock-pile age had little effect on seed bank characteristics. We detected differences among depths on the stock-pile, and between stock-piles and undisturbed soil. Seed bank size and species richness generally decreased with increased stock-pile sampling depth at both sites. Differences between stock-piles and undisturbed soil varied between sites: at one site, stock-piling effects were common and were expressed in lower seed bank size and richness in stock-piles compared to undisturbed soils; at the other site, stock-piling had little effect on richness or seed bank size. Prevalence of exotic species varied between sites and likely reflected differences in surrounding vegetation. Therefore, site-to-site variability precludes strong generalizations. However, density of emerged native seedlings ranged from <1 to 5 seedlings 1,312 cm-2 at both sites; assuming acceptable species composition, stock-piles supported a suitable seed bank size at the time of sampling for restoration without need for additional seed input.