We measured soil seed banks in 102 plots within a 110000 ha Arizona Pinus ponderosa landscape, determined seed-bank responses to fire cues and tree canopy types (open or densely treed patches), compared seed-bank composition among ecosystem types, and assessed the utility of seed banks for ecological restoration. Liquid smoke was associated with increased community-level emergence from seed banks in greenhouse experiments, whereas heating to 100°C had minimal effect and charred P. ponderosa wood decreased emergence. We detected 103 species in seed-bank samples and 280 species in aboveground vegetation. Erigeron divergens was the commonest seed-bank species; with the exception of Gnaphalium exilifolium, species detected in seed banks also occurred above ground. Although a dry, sandy-textured black-cinder ecosystem exhibited the greatest seed density, seed-bank composition was more ecosystem-specific than was seed density. Native graminoids (e.g., Carex geophila and Muhlenbergia montana) were common in seed banks, whereas perennial forbs were sparse, particularly under dense tree canopies. Our results suggest that (i) smoke may increase emergence from seed banks in these forests, (ii) seed banks can assist establishment of major graminoids but not forbs during ecological restoration, and (iii) seed-bank composition is partly ecosystem-specific across the landscape.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Global and Planetary Change