Seed bank community and soil texture relationships in a cold desert

Journal of Arid Environments
By: , and 



Sustainable dryland management depends on understanding environmental factors driving composition of current and future ecological communities. While there has been extensive research on aboveground plant communities, less is known about belowground soil seed bank communities, which can reflect both past and potential future communities. In the Colorado Plateau of the western United States, we explored aboveground and belowground plant communities and how they varied across sites with similar climate but contrasting soil textures. We found that aboveground vegetation and belowground seed bank community composition each varied significantly among sites. However, we also observed marked aboveground-belowground compositional dissimilarity across sites, suggesting that the two spatially-associated communities may respond differently to the same environmental gradient. Lastly, we found that cheatgrass seed prevalence (Bromus tectorum) – one of the region’s major exotic invasive plants – varied strongly by soil texture, a finding with potential implications for invasive species management. From our research findings, we highlight two general patterns for dryland managers. Firstly, we show aboveground and belowground plant communities will not always respond to the same environmental changes in a coordinated manner. Secondly, the data underscore a large potential role for soil texture in mediating the plant community responses to other environmental factors.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Seed bank community and soil texture relationships in a cold desert
Series title Journal of Arid Environments
DOI 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2019.01.008
Volume 164
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Southwest Biological Science Center
Description 7 p.
First page 46
Last page 52
Country United States
State Utah
Other Geospatial Arches National Park
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