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Restoration_in_South_Texas-Challenges_and_Expectations

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Slide Number 2Challenges!Slide Number 4Non-native PlantsWhy are non-natives a concern?Others....Slide Number 14Slide Number 15“Control of vegetation for game cover or food must be based on a thorough understanding of the fact that the kind of vegetation on any piece of land does not remain unchanged from year to year if left to itself.”38 years later…..Slide Number 24Things to considerWhat can be expected?10 Things I’ve learned, that will help a revegetation plantingSlide Number 30TIPSRestoration in South Texas-Challenges & ExpectationsbyForrest SmithSouth Texas NativesCaesar Kleberg Wildlife Research InstituteTexas A&M University-KingsvilleChallenges!Non-native Plants• Non-native grasses are the greatest obstacle to native plant revegetation in south Texas!• A significant % of south Texas’ land area is dominated by non-native grassesWhy are non-natives a concern?• native plant species diversity plummets as non-native grass cover increases• Lower quality habitat for wildlife• Non-natives are NOT a concern for many agencies, landowners, and citizens• Further degradation of wildlife habitat• Increase in urbanization and fragmentation will lead to expansion and increase in non-native plantsGuinea grass• Tremendous population expansion over the last 25 years• tropical grass• responds to monsoonal weather patterns• rapid colonization following disturbance in the absence of grazing• several control optionsSabi grass• Native of Africa• Widespread use as a forage grass in Australia• Likely an “un-intentional” introduction• Range expansion into large portions of south Texas in a relatively short time period• Extensive canopy + stoloniferous growth habitSabi grassBuffelgrass• Out-competes almost all native plant species in initial establishment• prolific• exhibits “landscape domination” in both native & introduced settings• long term control measures expensive, impractical & often ineffective• economic & political factorsOld world bluestems• Aggressivecolonization• Chris Best: “produces seed approximately 100% of the time”!• extremely drought tolerant• control measures much like buffelgrassBermudagrass• common bermudagrass easier to control than “improved” varieties• difficult to destroy latent rhizomes in seed bank• herbicides + mechanical treatments can be effective if well timed• sacrifice areas• Early spot control is effectiveOthers....• natal grass• Johnson grass• St. Augustine grass• Chloris spp.• blue panicum• Kleingrass• Lehmann lovegrass• Wilman lovegrass• Panicum spp.• Urochloa spp.• barnyard grass• rhodesgrass• bundleflower• medics• Silky bluestemWebb Co., TX 1 acre planting• Formerly buffelgrass• Likely failure, but why?• 30 days from planting:– Planted natives 4 plants/ft2– Volunteer natives 2.3 plants/ft2– Buffelgrass 3 plants/ft2– Bare ground & liter 54% cover– Buffelgrass 12.67% cover– Slender grama & Rio Grande clammyweed 14.67% coverMany parts of south Texas have a non-native grass community that is as diverse as many native habitats throughout the world.In this picture: buffelgrass, Kleberg bluestem, silky bluestem, Angleton bluestem, bermudagrass, Johnsongrass, liverseed grass, guinea grass, Angleton bluestem, and natal grassDrought• Natives species are well adapted (dormancy, specific germination conditions)• Patience!!! Don’t throw in the towel• Careful analysis of rainfall patterns when planning a project• Some plantings show better establishment of natives vs. non-natives influenced by long term drought conditions• Agriculture=negative• Revegetation=positive!• Aesthetics vs. functionality• Nurse plant effects• Soil building properties• Soil stabilization• Important wildlife plants• Thresholds may be reached where control is advisableWeedsWeeds we work with• tallow weeds• clammyweed• slender grama• shortspike windmillgrass• deer pea vetch• frostweed• awnless bush sunflower• partridge pea• crotonDesirable plant species• Often hard to establish• Slow growing, and may require specific soil & ecological conditions that cannot be “restored” overnight• Objectives vs. perceived desirability• High profile wildlife food plants• Forage plants• Indicator plants• Keystone speciesSome desirable species we work with...• Sideoats grama (state grass of Texas)• major prairie components (bluestems, gramas, trichloris, pappusgrass)• legumes (daleas, prairie acacia, bundleflower)• “rare” (eastern gamagrass, big bluestem, Arizona cottontop)“Control of vegetation for game cover or food must be based on a thorough understanding of the fact that the kind of vegetation on any piece of land does not remain unchanged from year to year if left to itself.”Aldo Leopold, Game ManagementSometimes rest is best!38 years later…..1971• Almost no little bluestem, yellow Indiangrass, or big bluestem• Few forbs• Livestock production (sheep, goats, cattle)• Plant community dominated by threeawn, red grama, queens delight• Bare ground 30-50%2009• 60% cover of little bluestem, co-dominants present and increasing• Forb diversity has dramatically increased (deer browsing still limits)• Proper grazing (28 yrs.) and total deferment (10 yrs.)• Dramatic increase in ashe juniper & King Ranch BluestemWhen to add seed?•Some habitats are relatively stable, but simply degraded•Disturbances associated with a seeding project will likely result in more harm than help•Some soil types have a greater chance of naturally recovering•Dormant seed in the seed bank will re-establish over time•Land use history should be a determining factor in when to seed•Old fields many times have had soil turned over, farmed for many years or herbicides used that have depleted the seed bank•Small areas within otherwise intact habitats may be good candidates for natural restoration•Large expanses of cropland or areas with extreme infestations of non-native grasses have almost no chance of naturally reverting to native plantsLet your site dictate what you plant!Earl big bluestem-north central Texas origin, August 2007-seeded out 2’ tall9086164 big bluestem-Kenedy County, Texas origin, August 2007,6’ tall, not yet seeded out (too hot!!!!)1styear performance is a poor indicator of long term performance, observations 4-5 years after planting will lead to better conclusions! Remember your


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