Wiregrass (Aristida beyrichiana Trin. and Rupr.) recruitment, establishment and growth
Mulligan, Maureen Kay
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The once dominant longleaf pine-wiregrass ecosystems of the southeastern United States are now extremely rare. Because wiregrass is often considered a keystone species in these communities, recent restoration efforts have focused on its regeneration; however, little information is available on wiregrass population dynamics. In this study, wiregrass establishment and recruitment was assessed in several restoration situations including longleaf pine plantations and formerly cultivated fields. Low canopy densities were shown to be necessary for successful wiregrass recruitment and establishment although wiregrass can persist in closed canopy situations. Prescribed burning in the first two years following seed germination resulted in higher seedling mortality than no-burn, particularly for small seedlings in the first summer. Weedy competition decreased wiregrass growth regardless of seedling age. However, seedling survival increased only for 3-week-old and 1-year-old individuals in the absence of weedy competition. Root competition resulted in smaller seedlings and lower survival regardless of seedling age.