Drought-mediated stem and below-ground bud dynamics in restored grasslands

Authors


Corresponding author; e-mail: dlcarter@ksu.edu

Abstract

Question

Does the below-ground bud bank mediate response to drought in restored grasslands?

Location

Platte River Valley region of south-central Nebraska, USA.

Methods

We imposed severe drought for one growing season using rainfall manipulation structures and measured the response of above- and below-ground plant communities (ramet and below-ground bud densities) with respect to non-drought controls during the drought year and a recovery year.

Results

Drought reduced below-ground bud bank density and above-ground stem density. However, bud bank density recovered, and bud production was higher on previously droughted subplots relative to controls in the year following drought. The response of below-ground bud and above-ground stem density to drought differed according to functional identity (C3 grass, C4 grass, and forb), with forbs least resistant to, but having the greatest recovery from, drought.

Conclusions

While overall density in restored grasslands was resilient, drought effects on below-ground bud banks may have longer-term impacts on plant community structure. Reduced density above- or below-ground during the growing season following drought may allow for the persistence of species relatively more reliant on recruitment from seed banks in favourable micro-sites.

Ancillary