Seeding plants for long-term multiple ecosystem service goals

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The historical management of agroecological systems, such as California’s rangelands, have received criticism for a singular focus on agricultural production goals, while society has shifting expectations to the supply of multiple ecosystem services from these working landscapes. The sustainability and the multiple benefits derived from these complex social-ecological systems is increasingly threatened by weed invasion, extreme disturbance, urban development, and the impacts of a rapidly changing and increasingly variable climate. California’s grasslands, oak savannas, and oak woodlands are among the most invaded ecosystems in the world. Weed eradication efforts are rarely combined with seeding on these landscapes despite support for the inclusion of the practice in a weed management program. Depending on seed mix choice, cost and long-term uncertainty, especially for native seed, is an impediment to adoption by land managers. We investigated four seeding mixes (forage annual, native perennial, exotic perennial, and exotic-native perennial) to evaluate how these treatments resist rein-vasion and support the delivery of simultaneous multiple ecosystem services (invasion resistance, native richness, nitrogen fixing plants, pollinator food sources, plant community diversity, forage quality, and productivity). We found the increase of exotic and native perennial cover will drive resistance to an invading weedy summer flowering forb Centaurea solstitialis but provides a mixed response to resisting invasive annual grasses. The resistance to invasion is coupled with little tradeoff in forage productivity and quality and gains in plant diversity and native cover.

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