Smith, R. G. 2006. Timing of tillage is an important filter on the assembly of weed communities. Weed Science 54:705-712.
A trait-based community assembly approach to weed management may enhance our understanding of how weed communities respond to specific management practices and increase the utility of weed management based on ecological principles. Therefore, identifying management practices that operate as assembly filters and the species traits upon which they act is an important first step in developing a more predictive weed science. Here, I report results from a 3-yr investigation of the effects of timing of annual tillage (spring vs. fall) on the annual assembly of arable weed communities. The timing of tillage had consistent and dramatic effects on the composition of weed communities; spring tillage led to weed communities dominated by early emerging spring annual forbs and C4 grasses, and fall tillage led to communities dominated by later-emerging forbs and C3 grasses. Traits determining a species’ susceptibility to tillage time likely include germination syndrome and life cycle, both of which influence how species respond to changes in soil resource levels and light availability driven by seasonal disturbance regime. Manipulating the timing of tillage and other major soil disturbances may therefore be an important tool for managers interested in influencing community composition or targeting species with similar germination and life-history traits.
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