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Mowing-Induced Changes in Soil Seed Banks and Populations of Plumeless Thistle (Carduus acanthoides) and Musk Thistle (Carduus nutans)

  • Philip W. Tipping (a1)

Abstract

Populations of plumeless thistle and musk thistle were mowed at various growth stages at two separate sites in Maryland during a 6-yr period to elucidate relationships among seed rain, soil seed banks, and population recruitment. The majority of seeds (96%) in the soil profile were distributed within 7.6 cm of the surface at both sites. Mowing plumeless thistle when most of the flower heads were at the full bud or postbloom stage did not reduce seed bank or plant densities, unlike mowing at full bloom, which significantly and quickly reduced both. Musk thistle responded differently, with plant density declining only with the postbloom mowing treatment, which occurred after the parent plant had dispersed seeds and died. Seed bank densities were unchanged by this treatment. This indicates that other factors may limit the recruitment and maintenance of musk thistle, such as allelochemical production by parents and interspecific plant competition. Density of musk thistle declined over an 11-yr period at one monitoring site, whereas plumeless thistle remained unchanged. The disproportionate seed-destroying activities of the weed biological control agent Rhinocyllus conicus on musk thistle may explain this difference.

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Keywords

Mowing-Induced Changes in Soil Seed Banks and Populations of Plumeless Thistle (Carduus acanthoides) and Musk Thistle (Carduus nutans)

  • Philip W. Tipping (a1)

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