Invasive plant species are a major threat to the biodiversity of a habitat. Biological controls, on the other hand, have been implemented in such areas to eradicate or reverse the effects of invasive plant species. Capra hircus (Goat) are being used increasingly as biological controls for eradicating invasive plant species from natural areas. In Fall 2020, we investigated the magnitude to which Goats can alter the dominance of invasive plant species in a secondary successional forest environment near Conesus Lake in Lakeville, NY. To measure this extent, we compared the soil seedbank to the seed rain at our site, along a gradient of browsed to unbrowsed plots along 2 transects (n = 20) that were 18 m apart laterally and 46 m apart longitudinally. We quantified the soil seedbank by identifying the seedlings that emerged from soil samples extracted using a soil auger to a depth of 15 cm at each plot. We also collected the seed rain using 25 cm x 25 cm Astroturf seed traps at each plot. Our preliminary results, such as a higher amount of Alliaria petiolata (Garlic Mustard) in the seedbank than in the seed rain, indicate that the use of Capra hircus as biological controls is effective, yet the alteration is not as rapid as it might seem because of regeneration from soil seedbanks. Comparing and quantifying plant species results found above and below ground in the presence or absence of biological controls may aid in managing the restoration of an area. Future considerations may include revisiting this area over a longer time frame (in years) to examine if the implementation of biological controls can completely eradicate invasive species in a habitat.
"The Effect of Goats as Biological Controls on Soil Seedbanks and Long-Term Habitat Restoration in a Secondary Successional Forest,"
Proceedings of GREAT Day: Vol. 2021, Article 14.
Available at: https://knightscholar.geneseo.edu/proceedings-of-great-day/vol2021/iss1/14