A perspective on the seed bank dynamics of Acacia saligna
Format Extent149156 bytes
MetadataShow full item record
Acacia saligna, or Port Jackson, is an Australian Acacia which has spread throughout the Western and Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa where it has become invasive and a prominent feature of the vegetation. In areas where A. saligna establishes it replaces natural vegetation, alters ecosystem processes and interferes with agricultural practices. Consequently large management efforts have been made to eradicate this invasive alien tree. However, its large and persistent soil stored seed bank, even in the presence of management and biological control agents, poses a serious obstacle to its successful removal. Furthermore the seed bank dynamics of A. saligna over its whole distribution and its variation with environmental conditions in time and space is poorly known. Understanding the seed bank dynamics of A. saligna in time and space is essential for reducing invasive success and achieving management objectives. This study has filled this knowledge gap through studying the seed production and seed bank of A. saligna over its invaded range in South Africa, including how environmental factors influence these factors in time and space. The seed rain of A. saligna was assessed at 10 sites across its distribution in South Africa. The seed rain of A. saligna at the sites was determined through the use of seed rain traps. Twenty five traps were placed out at every site during November 2010 (pre-dehiscence) which was collected again during April 2010 (post-dehiscence). The seed bank of A. saligna was estimated through sampling at 25 sites across its distribution range in South Africa. The seed bank was sampled during April 2010 (post-dehiscence), November 2010 (pre-dehiscence) and April 2011 (post-dehiscence) through taking 50 litter and soil samples at every site which gave a total sampling size of 3 750 for both the seed in the soil and litter over its distribution in South Africa. In addition the average tree diameter, tree density, average number of Uromycladium tepperianum induced galls per tree, the summer aridity index, De Martonne aridity index, winter concentration of precipitation, temperature of coldest month and the soil texture for every site was determined. The damage done by the seed feeding weevil was also estimated for the seed rain study sites. Water availability during the hot summer months was assessed as the most important factor governing seed production and seed bank size. Riparian and non-riparian water regimes were shown to be important in understanding the seed bank dynamics of A. saligna over its distribution range in the Cape Floristic Region. In non-riparian A. saligna populations the seed bank dynamics is limited by both water and temperature and in Riparian A. saligna populations only by temperature. Therefore, two environmental gradients influence the seed bank dynamics of Port Jackson in South Africa. In non-riparian A. saligna populations the number of seed produced and the accumulation of seed in the seed bank generally increases along the west coast of South Africa from Clanwilliam towards Cape Town and along the south coast from Cape Town towards Port Elizabeth. Seed banks are larger closer to the coast, when A. saligna populations of similar age are compared. In Riparian A. saligna populations, the number of seed produced generally increases from Port Elizabeth towards Cape Town and from Cape Town towards Clanwilliam, again, with larger seed banks being accumulated closer to the coast, when populations of similar age are compared. This study provides managers with a useful tool for prioritising management efforts.