Secondary Succession following Extended Inundation of Texas Coastal Rangeland

C. J. Scifres, J. L. Mutz
1975 Journal of range management  
Highlight: Periodic tropical storms may cause large areas of Texas coastal rangeland to be inundated for several years. The range sites usually support Acacia-Prosopis communities prior to flooding with herbaceous vegetation dominated by several species of Setaria. Following extended inundation with fresh water, secondary succession proceeds from a sedge-sodgrass stage through a sodgrass-bunchgrass stage to a bunchgrass stage. Longtom (Paspalum lividum Torr.) initially stabilizes the areas as
more » ... izes the areas as free-standing water withdraws, followed by common bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.) as the surfaces dry. Sprangletops (Leptochloa spp.) are among the earliest desirable species to appear during succession, followed by species of Trichloris and Eragrostis. In many cases, spike dropseed (Sporobolus contractus Hitchc.) forms a stable vegetation stage on the areas. Although highly productive, periodic prescribed burning is required for effective utilization of the spike dropseed. The Texas Coastal Prairie, which occupies nearly 4 million ha, is a nearly level, slowly drained plain less than 46 m in elevation on the eastern edge of the %outh Texas Plains (Gould, 1969). The Coastal Prairie is characterized by average annual rainfall of about 90 cm and a growing season of more than 325 days. Natural vegetation has developed in response to warm temperatures and the relatively high humidity characteristic of semitropical environments. Potential vegetation is mostly grassland dominated by species such as big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi Vitman), seacoast bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium var. littoralis (Nash) Gould) and several Panicurns. Use of introduced grasses such as buffelgrass (Cenchrus ciliaris L.) as tame pasture in conjunction with native range is a common practice following brush control. The Coastal Prairie supports a general cover of woody plants characterized by honey mesquite (Pvosopis glandulosa Torr. var. glandulosa), various acacias (Acacia spp.), oaks (Quercus spp.), and pricklypears (Opuntia spp.). Drainage is usually a problem but soils are highly productive. Much of the Coastal Prairie is utilized for production of row crops adapted to Authors are associate professor and range research technician,
doi:10.2307/3897776 fatcat:ycuhrqguqzeutdsds2qx7fh32m