Germination potential, growth patterns and reproductive effort of Juncus articulatus and Glyceria australis in temporary shallow wetlands in Australia

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Juncus articulatus is an exotic aquatic species occuring over large areas of Mother of Ducks Lagoon, a shallow and temporary wetland in northern New South Wales, Australia. The other dominant perennial species at the site is the native Glyceria australis. Little is known of the ecology of either species or of the potential of J. articulatus to invade wetlands. The germination potential, growth patterns and reproductive effort of J. articulatus and G. australis were compared in response to water regime, grazing and competition. Both species have persistent seed banks from which only a small percentage of seeds germinate in repeated wetting events and from sediment stored dry. J. articulatus germinated in very high numbers from Mother of Ducks Lagoon sediment, but was rare in other lagoons in the region. G. australis germinated in comparatively lower numbers from Mother of Ducks Lagoon sediment and was rare in other lagoon sediments despite being present in the extant vegetation in several lagoons. The introduced J. articulatus has several life cycle characteristics that differ from G. australis, notably a high allocation of biomass to inflorescences under all water regimes. Clipping stimulated above ground vegetative and sexual reproduction for J. articulatus and high numbers of tillers facilitate the sexual reproductive effort. Because J. articulatus is ubiquitous in the region, our results suggest that management of this exotic species should be directed towards minimizing recruitment opportunities and that this could be achieved by increasing variation in water regimes in combination with reduced disturbance from grazing.

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