Disturbance is a major factor in determining the spatial structure and temporal dynamics of ecological systems. Many studies have been conducted concerning the plant assemblages around Dipodmys spectabilis mounds compared to the off mound area. These studies have shown that annual plant cover is higher on the kangaroo rat mound compared to off the mound. However, no studies have addressed the effects of these rodents disturbance on the soil seed bank. Soil seed banks are an important component of the plant community particularly in arid environments. Annual plants have been known to create viable seeds that remain dormant in the soil for many years making their seed bank a persistent one. A persistent seed bank allows for future recruitment of plants given favorable conditions that could have a dramatic impact on the overall species diversity of the community. We studied the seed bank of eight forb taxa to ask the following questions: 1) Are there more seeds in the seed bank around kangaroo rat mounds compared to other microhabitats? 2) Does the seed composition differ among the different microhabitats? 3) If the seed composition does differ, do specific physical components of microhabitats predict seed populations?
Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity (KNB) Identifier
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SEV LTER, Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM , 87131
2001-08-27 - 2001-08-31
Location: Five Points Black Grama is on the transition between Chihuahuan Desert Scrub and Desert Grassland habitat. The site is subject to intensive research activity, including assessments of net primary productivity, phenology, and pollinator diversity, amongst other projects. It is the site of the unburned black grama (GU) component of the Burn NPP study. On August 4, 2009, a lightning-initiated fire began on the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge. By August 5, 2009, the fire had reached the Five Points Black Grama site. Portions of this site were burned, but not the entirety. See individual projects for further information on the effects of the burn. Vegetation: The Five Points Black Grama site is ecotonal in nature, bordering Chihuahuan Desert Scrub at its southern extent and Plains-Mesa Grassland at its northern, more mesic boundary. Characteristically, the dominant grass is black grama (Bouteloua eriopoda).
Koontz, Terri; Simpson, Heather (2011): Effects of Kangaroo Rat Mounds on Seed Banks of Grass and Shrublands at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico (2001). Long Term Ecological Research Network. http://dx.doi.org/10.6073/pasta/115b8095a5e82028869a8c56eff14597