Seed-bank and seedling dynamics in Hyparrhenia hirta are influenced by herbicide application and mowing management

Chejara,V. K.
Sindel,B. M.
Whalley,R. D. B.
CSIRO Publishing
Publication Year: 
Hyparrhenia hirta (L.) Stapf (Coolatai grass) is a summer-active, C4 perennial tussock grass, native to southern Africa and the Mediterranean region, which has invaded areas of native flora in Australia in recent decades. Understanding its seed and seedling dynamics and how various management treatments (e.g. mowing, herbicide and no management) affect these may assist in identifying the conditions and management strategies required to limit its invasion. The population dynamics of H. hirta have not been comprehensively studied previously. A 2-year field experiment (December 2005-December 2007) was conducted to determine the seed-bank size, pattern of seedling emergence and survival of H. hirta seedlings at three sites in northern New South Wales, Australia, under three treatments: unmanaged (control), mowing and herbicide treatments. The density of H. hirta seeds in the soil at each experimental site under different treatments was measured in December 2005 at the start of the experiment, in December 2006 before the application of the second round of treatments and again at the end of the experiment in December 2007. Hyparrhenia hirta seedlings were assessed at monthly intervals in permanent quadrats (0.5×0.5m) to determine seedling emergence and survival. Seedling emergence occurred on many occasions during the 2-year period of the experiment in each treatment and at all sites but the main seedling flushes were observed from mid summer to early autumn. In 2007, at all sites, seedling emergence declined by more than 90% on the mowing and herbicide treatments compared with the control treatment. Seedling survival was greater in the mowing and herbicide treatments than in the control treatment. The seedling cohorts emerging in winter had a lower survival. This study showed that H. hirta infestations have a large viable seed-bank (~3000m-2), dependent on the level of infestation and climatic conditions, but that the seed-bank declines rapidly when seed addition is prevented. Some form of direct control of established H. hirta plants in combination with providing appropriate grazing management to encourage competition between grasses will assist in the control of H. hirta.
Name of Journal: 
The Rangeland Journal
Resource Type: 
Document Type: 
Journal Issue/Article
Australian Rangeland Society

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