Natural Resources and the Environment
College or School
Wildlife and Conservation Biology
Faculty Research Advisor
As food demands increase, we will require new food production practices and more agricultural land. Silvopasture is an agroforestry system that integrates forage production, tree products, and livestock. Converting some forested land to silvopasture could be a way to increase the agricultural land base in heavily-forested New England while still maintaining the ecosystem services that trees provide. However, such conversions could also lead to a shift in the plant community toward more weedy plant species, and little is known about how plant communities respond to the establishment of silvopastures from mature forest stands. We measured the soil seed bank in a recently established silvopasture, open pasture, and a mature forest (control) at the UNH Organic Dairy Research Farm. Soils were sampled along transects at 5 m intervals extending from the plot edge to the interior of each land use system. We then quantified the germinable seed bank in the UNH greenhouse. We assessed plant species diversity and density for each system and sample location, expecting that density and diversity would vary by system and that both would decline with increased distance from the plot edge. We observed little evidence that land use system or distance from the plot edge affected the seed bank community. These preliminary results suggest landowners may be able to establish silvopasture or open pasture from mature forest stands without rapid shifts in the soil seed bank community. Future studies could focus on the mechanisms driving seed bank dynamics in recently established silvopastures and the functional relationships between soil seed bank communities and forage productivity and quality.
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O'del, Jenna N.; Smith, Richard G. Ph.D.; and Warren, Nicholas D., "Soil Seed Bank Response Following Forest Conversion to Silvopasture and Open Pasture" (2019). Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) Student Presentations. 446.