Cirsium arvense and Lepidium latifolium are species that can aggressively invade wetland margins and potentially reduce biodiversity and alter ecosystem function. Although expansion of these species primarily occurs via rhizomatous growth, seeds are thought to be important in initial establishment. We conducted this study to investigate differences in seed germination of C. arvense and L. latifolium in montane wetlands of Colorado and Wyoming, USA. We used germination chambers to simulate environmental conditions (photoperiod, day/night temperature) during three periods of the growing season at each site and evaluated seed germination in relation to three soil moisture levels and two soil depths. A combination of shallow (<1 cm) seed burial and wet conditions resulted in the greatest germination probability of C. arvense (x = 63.0%), 95% CI = 41.2-80.5%), whereas deep (2-3 cm) seed burial and saturated moisture conditions resulted in almost no germination (x?? = 0.3%, 95% CI = 0.1-1.3%). The maximum germination probability of 44.0% (CI = 28.1-61.4%) for L. latifolium also occurred in the shallow burial and wet treatment; however, only effects of seed burial were significant (P < 0.05). The estimated mean germination probability of deeply buried seeds was <1.0% (CI = 0.3-1.4%) compared to 32% (CI = 19.7-47.9%) for shallowly buried seeds. Our results suggest that each species has the ability to germinate at similar rates throughout the growing season and across a large portion of the moisture gradient. This suggests that management actions, including water-level manipulations, at any time during the growing season may stimulate germination. Although burial of seed to depths of 2-3 cm reduced the germination potential of both species, the use of mechanical implements may be problematic in established stands because new plants of both species easily sprout from root buds. Further, disturbance resulting from such actions diminishes the density and vigor of other plants already present, which may ultimately decrease the competitive resistance of the disturbed environment to invasion by outside species. Detection of new invasions is a critical component of any integrated weed management program. Our results indicate that the incidence of C. arvense and L. latifolium germination is most likely in areas with seeds that are within 1 cm of the soil surface and soil moisture is 75-100% of field capacity for extended periods. ?? 2006, The Society of Wetland Scientists.
Additional publication details
Seed germination of cirsium arvense and Lepidium latifolium: Implications for management of montane wetlands