Date of Award:

1998

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Natural Resources

Department name when degree awarded

Range Science

Advisor/Chair:

Christopher A. Call

Abstract

Field experiments were conducted to investigate the seed attributes, movements and fates of dispersal units, and seedling establishment of Chrysopogon aucheri and Cymbopogon jwarancusa in a representative grassland ecosystem in upland Balochistan, Pakistan.

Cymbopogon jwarancusa had more filled and viable caryopses than Chrysopogon aucheri. Seeds (spikelets) of both species had similar morphological features. Chrysopogon aucheri had one dispersal unit, a triplet spikelet. Cymbopogon jwarancusa had four types of dispersal units: a paired spikelet, a partial raceme, an entire raceme, and a partial inflorescence comprised of two racemes.

Paired spikelets and partial racemes of Cymbopogon jwarancusa had greater mean dispersal distances (94 and 101 cm) from the edge of the basal crown of marked plants to the ground surface than triplet spikelets of Chrysopogon aucheri (79 cm). Spikelets of Cymbopogon jwarancusa and Chrysopogon aucheri moved mean distances of 26 and 32 cm, respectively, on the ground surface before becoming trapped in a microhabitat. The mean angle of dispersal for both species was toward the northeast, according to the prevailing wind direction. An ant (Tica verona) was the only detected seed (spikelet) predator for Chrysopogon aucheri. Both species had a weakly persistent soil seed bank, with higher amounts of seeds found under plant canopies compared to open interspaces.

The recruitment of Chrysopogon aucheri and Cymbopogon jwarancusa seedlings from the natural seed bank was monitored in seven different microhabitats under natural and above-normal precipitation regimes . Above-normal precipitation increased seedling recruitment for both species in all microhabitats. Cymbopogon jwarancusa had higher seedling densities than Chrysopogon auchfiri. Seedling survival and tiller development for both species were greatest in the gravel microhabitat in the natural precipitation treatment. Monsoon rains in late July enhanced emergence of both species from recently dispersed seeds but emerged seedlings did not survive to the end of the growing season.

The field studies indicate that Cymbopogon jwarancusa has a greater regeneration potential than Chrysopogon aucheri in this grassland ecosystem in upland Balochistan. It may be difficult to increase the composition of Chrysopogon aucheri, the more desirable species in these grasslands, when using management techniques that rely on natural regeneration .

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