Long-term seeding outcomes in slash piles and skid trails after conifer removal

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Using two designed experiments from a central Oregon juniper woodland, we resampled slash piles and skid trails 8 years after seeding. Our objectives were to assess the long-term vegetation response to conifer removal, ground disturbance, and seeding source (cultivar and local) in slash piles and skid trails. We found that seeded species persisted in the long term, but abundance patterns depended on the species, seed source, and the type of disturbance. In general, there were more robust patterns of persistence after pile burning compared to skid trails. Seeding also suppressed exotic grass cover in the long term, particularly for the local seed source. However, the invasion levels we report are still problematic and may have impacts on biodiversity, forage and fire behavior. Our short-term results were not predictive of longer-term outcomes, but short- and long-term patterns were somewhat predictable based on species life history traits and ecological succession. The use of a mix of species with different life history traits may contribute to seeding success in terms of exotic grass suppression. Lastly, our results suggest that locally adapted seed sources may perform as well or better compared to cultivars. However, more aggressive weed treatments before and after conifer removal activities and wider seeding application may be needed to effectively treat exotic grass populations.

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