Nonnative pasture grasses established for agriculture and livestock husbandry have replaced countless acres of natural habitat in the last century of Florida history. Many endemic species, such as cutthroat grass (Coleataenia abscissa), are now endangered and may not return to areas until the dominant pasture grass has been removed. To determine the best strategy for native revegetation, we examined the effects of two soil preparations (tilling and no tilling) in pasture plots dominated by bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum) on the Archbold Reserve in south-central Florida. In preparation for the experiment, the No-Till and Till plots were first herbicided with glyphosate and burned to remove bahiagrass cover and expose the seed bank, then the Till plots were disked to a depth of 5–10 cm. Reference plots were left undisturbed to provide a pre-restoration baseline. The pre-tilling herbicide application and burn reduced bahiagrass cover in experimental plots to an average of 24% compared to 80% in reference plots. In the first year following tilling, overall plant community composition differed between tillage treatments, with 52 and 38 plant taxa found in the No-Till and Till plots, respectively, compared to only 14 in the reference plots. Importantly, native species richness was significantly higher in the No-Till treatment, and tilling resulted in minimal reduction of cover of bahiagrass and other exotic grasses. Seedling species composition differed among experimental blocks, suggesting soil moisture or other local abiotic conditions may significantly influence seedling establishment and restoration outcomes regardless of mechanical soil preparations.
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Vol. 37 • No. 1