Influence of the population spatial structure on seed rain distribution of an invasive plant under harsh environment.
Distribution of seeds of an invasive species is important for the spread of the invasion and for any directed eradication action. This distribution is driven by seed rain. We studied the influence of tussocks on the spatial pattern of seed rain and resulting population spatial pattern of an invasive Antarctic Poa annua L. population. Our hypothesis was that the tussocks trap wind-dispersed seeds. We set 40 artificial grass seed traps simulating tussocks and 40 soil seed traps (control) in the area occupied by the population. The traps were exposed for a total of 3 years and exchanged periodically. We assessed the seed bank in soil extracted for installation of our control traps. Seed number was determined by the germination method. We did not find any significant difference between the types of traps regarding the number of trapped seeds and the number of traps containing seeds, however trapping events were greater for artificial grass traps. The average size of the seed rain was 13.5 seeds m-2 year-1 and the size of the soil seed bank was 216 seeds m-2. We estimated that accumulation of the soil seed bank required around 16 years. Artificial grass discs may be more efficient than bare soil in accumulating seeds, therefore grass tussocks may influence the spatial population structure not only through local seed deposition, but also by intercepting seeds dispersed by wind. Our research further supports, that directed soil removal from underneath the tussocks is the most efficient eradication method of P. annua in Antarctica.