Role of Legumes in Release of Successionally Arrested Grasslands in
the Central Hills of Sri Lanka
Ashton, P.M.S., Samarasinghe, S.J., Gunatilleke, I.A.U.N., Gunatilleke, C.V.S. 1997, "Role of Legumes in Release of Successionally Arrested Grasslands in
the Central Hills of Sri Lanka", Restoration Ecology, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 36-43.
Corresponding Author: Mark.Ashton@yale.edu
School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511, U.S.A.
Botany Department, Faculty of Science, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.
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Leguminous groundcover herbs (not trees)
Calapogonium mucunoides (exotic)
Centrosema pubescens (exotic)
This study evaluated the ability of four herbaceous nitrogen-fixing legumes to prepare areas of arrested succession for reforestation activities.
Four sites were selected in the central hills of Sri Lanka where fire-tolerant grasses dominated after agricultural abandonment.
In 4m x 1m plots, vegetation was cut and uprooted, soil was turned over, and the four herbaceous cover species Calapogonium mucunoides, Centrosema pubescens, Desmodium ovalifolium, and Pueraria phaseoloides were planted.
Additionally, half of the sites were protected from browsing by wire mesh.
Samples of the legume species were collected to evaluate biomass at six months and before the first dry season.
Desmodium ovalifolium showed little effect of herbivory on the growth, whereas the other four species had significantly higher biomass within herbivore exclusions than without.
With herbivore exclusions, Calapogonium mucunoides and Pueraria phaseoloides had the greatest biomass.
Additionally the species had higher growth in the more moist sites than the drier sites, with C. pubescens being the most sensitive to soil moisture.
For future projects, the authors suggest determining the level of herbivory and the site conditions in order to match the appropriate cover species to the site.
Overall the authors recommend the use of nitrogen fixing ground cover to reduce the risk of fire, control erosion, and enhance the soil nutrients before planting trees.
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