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Keywords:

  • Mississippi Alluvial Valley;
  • moist-soil plants;
  • multi-stage sampling;
  • seed abundance;
  • waterfowl;
  • wetland management

Abstract: Managed moist-soil units support early succession herbaceous vegetation that produces seeds, tubers, and other plant parts used by waterfowl in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV), USA. We conducted a stratified multi-stage sample survey on state and federal lands in the MAV of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Missouri during autumns 2002–2004 to generate a contemporary estimate of combined dry mass of seeds and tubers (herein seed abundance) in managed moist-soil units for use by the Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture (LMVJV) of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. We also examined variation in mean seed abundance among moist-soil units in 2003 and 2004 in relation to management intensity (active or passive), soil pH and nutrient levels, proportional occurrence of plant life-forms (e.g., grass, flatsedge, and forb; vine; woody plants), and unit area. Estimates of mean seed abundance were similar in 2002 (x̄ = 537.1 kg/ha, SE = 100.1) and 2004 (x̄ = 555.2 kg/ha, SE = 105.2) but 35–40% less in 2003 (x̄ = 396.8 kg/ha, SE = 116.1). Averaged over years, seed abundance was 496.3 kg/ha (SE = 62.0; CV = 12.5%). Multiple regression analysis indicated seed abundance varied among moist-soil units inversely with proportional occurrence of woody vegetation and unit area and was greater in actively than passively managed units (R2adj = 0.37). Species of early succession grasses occurred more frequently in actively than passively managed units (P ≤ 0.09), whereas mid- and late-succession plants occurred more often in passively managed units (P ≤ 0.02). We recommend the LMVJV consider 556 kg/ha as a measure of seed abundance for use in estimating carrying capacity in managed moist-soil units on public lands in the MAV. We recommend active management of moist-soil units to achieve maximum potential seed production and further research to determine recovery rates of seeds of various sizes from core samples and the relationship between seed abundance and unit area. (JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT 72(3):707–714; 2008)