Mesquite and grass interference with establishing redberry juniper seedlings
Additional Document Info
Excessive cover of juniper (Juniperus pinchotii Sudw.) reduces forage production, interferes with livestock management, and diminishes the watershed and wildlife habitat values of rangelands. We studied whether juniper seedlings were differentially suppressed in the presence of different grass species, and to what extent established mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa Torr.) trees facilitated or competed with establishing juniper seedlings. Seedlings growing with any of the grasses (RGR = 0.23 to 0.43 cm cm-1) grew significantly less than those with no grass competition (RGR = 0.72 cm cm-1)(P < 0.01). Juniper seedlings grew significantly less in the presence of buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides (Nutt.) Engelm.) (RGR = 0.23 cm cm-1 than with either sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula (Michx.) Torr.) (RGR = 0.43 cm cm-1) or tobosagrass (Hilaria mutica [Buckl.] Benth.) (RGR = 0.43 cm cm-1)(P < 0.01). In contrast, juniper seedlings grew larger under intact canopies of mesquite (RGR = 0.99 cm cm-1) than in open grassland (RGR = 0.65 cm cm-1)(P < 0.05) due in part to the greater nutrient availability (P < 0.05) under mesquite canopies. Juniper growing in sub-canopy positions with mesquite trees removed grew less (RGR = 0.84 cm cm-1) than those growing under mesquite canopies with root competition (RGR = 0.99 cm cm-1)(P < 0.05). Juniper growing under intact mesquite canopies but without mesquite root competition, grew no better or worse (RGR = 0.93 cm cm-1) than those with mesquite root competition (RGR = 0.99 cm cm-1)(P > 0.05), indicating that mesquite root competition with juniper is probably inconsequential. Since junipers grow mainly in fall, winter and spring when mesquite trees are dormant and leafless, the lack of competition may largely be due to these 2 species using resources at different times of the year. Greater nutrient availability beneath mesquite canopies, reduction of summer temperatures, and temporal separation of resource use clearly benefit juniper seedlings growing in the presence of mesquite. Managing for a vigorous grass component with low densities and cover of mesquite is the best way to limit the rate of invasion by juniper.