Establishment and Management of Native Functional Groups in Restoration



The limiting similarity hypothesis predicts that communities should be more resistant to invasion by non-natives when they include natives with a diversity of traits from more than one functional group. In restoration, planting natives with a diversity of traits may result in competition between natives of different functional groups and may influence the efficacy of different seeding and maintenance methods, potentially impacting native establishment. We compare initial establishment and first-year performance of natives and the effectiveness of maintenance techniques in uniform versus mixed functional group plantings. We seeded ruderal herbaceous natives, longer-lived shrubby natives, or a mixture of the two functional groups using drill- and hand-seeding methods. Non-natives were left undisturbed, removed by hand-weeding and mowing, or treated with herbicide to test maintenance methods in a factorial design. Native functional groups had highest establishment, growth, and reproduction when planted alone, and hand-seeding resulted in more natives as well as more of the most common invasive, Brassica nigra. Wick herbicide removed more non-natives and resulted in greater reproduction of natives, while hand-weeding and mowing increased native density. Our results point to the importance of considering competition among native functional groups as well as between natives and invasives in restoration. Interactions among functional groups, seeding methods, and maintenance techniques indicate restoration will be easier to implement when natives with different traits are planted separately.