Population biology of Microlaena stipoides in a south-eastern Australian pasture

Meredith L Mitchell, James Virgona, Joe L Jacobs, David Kemp

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Microlaena (Microlaena stipoides var. stipoides (Labill.) R.Br.) is a C3 perennial grass that is native to areas of south-eastern Australia. In this region, perennial grasses are important for the grazing industries because of their extended
growing season and persistence over several years. This series of experiments focused on the population biology of Microlaena by studying the phenology (when seed was set), seed rain (how much seed was produced and where it fell), seed germination, germinable seedbank, seed predation and seedling recruitment in a pasture. Experiments were conducted at Chiltern, in north-eastern Victoria, on an existing native grass pasture dominated by Microlaena.
Seed yields were substantial (mean 800 seedsm–2), with seed rain occurring over December–May. Microlaena has two distinct periods of high seed rain, in early summer and in early autumn. Seed predation is high. Within a 24-h period during peak seed production, up to 30% of Microlaena seed was removed from a pasture, primarily by ants. Microlaena seedlings recruited throughout an open paddock; however, seedling density was low (5 seedlingsm–2). Microlaena represented only low numbers in the seedbank (0.01–0.05% of total); hence, any seedlings of Microlaena that germinate from the seedbank would face immense competition from other species. Management strategies for Microlaena-dominant pastures need to focus on the maintenance of existing plants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)767-779
Number of pages13
JournalCrop and Pasture Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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