Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Seed bank persistence of a South American cordgrass in invaded northern Atlantic and pacific coast estuaries.

Abstract

Invasive alien plant species impart considerable impacts that contribute to the decline of biodiversity worldwide. The ability of an invasive species to overcome barriers to establish and spread in new environments, and the long-term effects of plant invasions supporting their persistence are keys to invasion success. The capacity of introduced species to form soil seed banks can contribute to their invasiveness, yet few studies of invaders have addressed seed bank dynamics. Improved knowledge of this recruitment process can improve conservation management. We studied temporal and spatial changes in soil seed bank characteristics of the cordgrass Spartina densiflora from two continental invaded ranges. In the Odiel Marshes (Southwest Iberian Peninsula), S. densiflora formed transient seed banks (<1 year). At Humboldt Bay Estuary (California), viable seeds persisted for at least 4 years though the germination percentage fell abruptly after the first year from 29% to less than 5% of remaining viable seeds. Total soil seed bank density increased with S. densiflora above-ground cover in both estuaries, pointing to the transient component of the seed bank as a critical component of vegetation dynamics during S. densiflora invasion. Even so, seed densities as high as c. 750 seeds m-2 in Odiel Marshes and c. 12 400 seeds m-2 in Humboldt Bay were recorded in some plots without fruiting S. densiflora plants. S. densiflora spikelet (dispersal unit) density was more than double close to the sediment surface than deeper within soil. Our study shows the importance of evaluating seed banks during the design of invasive species management since seed bank persistence may vary among invaded sites, and can affect the timing and duration required for desired management outcomes.