Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Distinctive seed dispersal and seed bank patterns of invasive African grasses favour their invasion in a neotropical savanna.

Abstract

High propagule availability compared to native species is often critical to invasion success, but it is unclear if this has contributed to invasions by African grasses in Neotropical savannas. We compared patterns of occurrence in the vegetation, seed rain and seed bank among African and native grasses in Cerrado sites in southeastern Brazil. In grasslands and savannas, we obtained the abundance of grasses in the vegetation, in the seed rain (monthly for one year) and in the seed bank (rainy and dry season), and assessed seed limitation and relationships among compartments. Invasive grasses showed low abundance in all compartments and high seed limitation in grasslands, where the seed bank and seed rain were dominated by small-seeded native grasses, but were at least as abundant as the natives in the seed bank and seed rain in savannas, mostly due to high abundance of Melinis minutiflora at these compartments. Native grasses dispersal occurred in the rainy season, whereas invasive grass dispersal occurred from mid rainy to mid dry season (Urochloa decumbens) and in the dry season (M. minutiflora). Melinis minutiflora showed a more persistent seed bank than U. decumbens and natives in savannas. Abundance of invasive and most of the native grasses in the vegetation was positively related to their abundance in the seed rain. Differences in seed production, the timing of seed dispersal and seed bank persistence compared to native grasses seem to favour invasive African grasses in the Cerrado, but this role may differ between grasslands and savannas.