Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Research Vol. 14, No. 1, 2004. Copyright © 2004 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


We sampled the soil seed bank underneath and surrounding eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana L.) trees at two mixed-grass prairie sites in Nebraska. Our objectives were to investigate the seed bank for seed number and seed viability in various directions and distances from individual trees. Additionally, we planted seeds to determine seed longevity and viability in the soil seed bank. Six female trees were selected at each site. At each tree, 16 soil samples were collected using a lax 10 cm quadrant at four distances (inside the canopy and 0.5, 2, and 5 m from the canopy) in each of the cardinal directions. Seeds were counted and viability tested using 1% 2,3,5-triphenyltetrazolium chloride. We found that most seeds were recovered inside the canopy, and seed numbers rapidly declined as distance from the canopy increased. Seed recovery and viability over time decreased, with an average of only 3% of the potential seeds recovered. Our results indicate that eastern redcedar recruitment does not rely on long-term accumulation of seeds in the soil seed bank.