Effects of kangaroo rat mounds on seed banks at SNWR

Disturbance is a major factor in determining the spatial structure and temporal dynamics of ecological systems. Many studies have been conducted concerning the plant assemblages around Dipodmys spectabilis mounds compared to the off mound area. These studies have shown that annual plant cover is higher on the kangaroo rat mound compared to off the mound. However, no studies have addressed the effects of these rodents disturbance on the soil seed bank. Soil seed banks are an important component of the plant community particularly in arid environments. Annual plants have been known to create viable seeds that remain dormant in the soil for many years making their seed bank a persistent one. A persistent seed bank allows for future recruitment of plants given favorable conditions that could have a dramatic impact on the overall species diversity of the community. We studied the seed bank of eight forb taxa to ask the following questions: 1) Are there more seeds in the seed bank around kangaroo rat mounds compared to other microhabitats? 2) Does the seed composition differ among the different microhabitats? 3) If the seed composition does differ, do specific physical components of microhabitats predict seed populations?