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The Establishment Success of native Versus Non-Native Herbaceous Seed Mixes on a Revegetated Roadside in Central Texas

  • Jeannine, Tinsley
  • Mark T., Simmons
  • Steve, Windhager
Published Article
Publication Date
May 19, 2007
Road Ecology Center John Muir Institute of the Environment
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Revegetation is an essential component of roadside and building site construction and improvement. In the southern United States non-native grass species are frequently included in revegetation seed mixes used by highway authorities. Non-native species are frequently selected for aggressive growth characteristics, however these same traits also render them potentially invasive, and subsequently hazardous to, adjacent plant communities. Although the use of pure native seed mixes have been rejected in the past due to perceived inferior establishment characteristics, there have been few comparative quantitative field studies that justify this belief. The establishment characteristics of three seed mixes: one containing non-native species and two with native grass and forb species only, were compared in a randomized-block design along a Texas roadside following spring and summer sowing. After 60 days following the spring sowing, the two native-only seed mixes demonstrated 180% and 560% (F=10.18; P<0.0001) higher seed densi¬ties than the recommended native/non-native mix. The summer sowing results were similar with seedling densities 180% and 330% (F=9.20; P<0.01) greater than the standard non-native seeding. Although an aggressive colonizer from vegetative tissue such as stolons and rhizomes, the non-native Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) has a lower than expected establishment rate thought to be due to high water demand during the first weeks following sowing. Given the invasive characteristics of this common component of many recommended revegetation seed mixes, these results call into question the widespread recommended use of Bermudagrass for such projects. These data indicate that examination of suites of early- and late-succesional native species can provide a highly effective mix for revegetation projects. Furthermore, this reduces the potential for negative ecological consequences and provides added benefits associated with wholly native plant communities.

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