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Spacing and Competition Between Planted Grass Plugs and Preexisting Perennial Grasses in a Restoration Site in Oregon

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Abstract

Planting native species into restoration settings where other natives already occur is a common practice. However, the competitive consequences of such plantings are rarely studied. Planting density also affects restoration costs. Here we examined the effects of established individuals of Lemmon's needlegrass (Achnatherum lemmonii) on plugs of bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) and Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis) in a restoration site in Oregon. All three of these grasses are local native perennials. Plugs were planted at 6, 12, and 18 cm from established A. lemmonii bunchgrasses and also in plots without A. lemmonii neighbors. Plug survival was uniformly high, averaging more than 98%. Plugs planted at 6 cm from established grasses showed significantly lower growth and reproduction than plugs planted at 18 cm, which had similar values to plugs not planted in the vicinity of A. lemmonii. These results suggest that interplanting distances of as little as 18 cm were sufficient to greatly reduce competitive effects on newly planted plugs, at least in early establishment at this site.

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