Add woody debris to protect seeds/plants
Overall effectiveness category Evidence not assessed
Number of studies: 1
Background information and definitions
In natural grasslands, the survival and growth of some plant species may be positively influenced by another plant species as a result of protection from drought or from grazing (Brooker et al. 2008). This observation has led to the use of nurse plants – where the seeds of plants are sown underneath other existing plants in the hope that this will improve their chances of establishment. Adding woody debris for protection is a modification of this idea, where woody debris is added to increase the likelihood that plants sown underneath the debris will survive.
Brooker, R.W., Maestre, F.T., Callaway, R.M., Lortie, C.L., Cavieres, L.A., Kunstler, G., Liancourt, P., Tielbörger, K., Travis, J.M.J., Anthelme, F., Armas, C., Coll, L., Corcket, E., Delzon, S., Forey, E., Kikvidze, Z., Olofsson, J., Pugnaire, F., Quiroz, C.L., Saccone, P., Schiffers, K., Seifan, M., Touzard, B. & Michalet, R. (2008) Facilitation in plant communities: the past, the present, and the future. Journal of Ecology, 96, 18–34.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated, randomized, paired, controlled study in 2002–2003 in degraded rangelands in north central Kenya (King & Stanton 2008) found that sowing buffel grass Cenchrus ciliaris beside piles of branches did not affect seedling survival. At the end of the first growing season, there was no significant difference in survival between buffel grass seedlings planted next to piles of thorn branches (9%) and those without protection (6%). Survival in the second and third growing seasons after planting also did not differ significantly between seedlings with (91–98%) and without (95–100%) thorn branches. In April 2002, prior to seasonal rains, nine rows of 14 holes (14 cm diameter and 25 cm deep) were dug in bare ground. Seven holes in each row were piled with thorny Acacia branches, and seven holes were refilled as untreated controls. Buffel grass seeds (0.2 g) were sown in furrows 5 cm deep, 20 cm long and 10 cm away on either side of the rows of holes, and covered with soil. The site was grazed at a density of 0.8 sheep and goats/ha. Seedling survival was monitored from April 2002–November 2003, which included three complete growing seasons.Study and other actions tested