A research project going on here at Laguna Atascosa is looking at site preparation vs. seedling survival and growth on the revegetation sites. Combinations of site prep include burning, mowing, treatment with chemical herbicide, treatment with natural herbicide, and many combinations of these. They are also experimenting with Tree Tubes on half of the plots. These are translucent plastic tubes that are placed over the seedlings and anchored into place with stakes.
The tubes are intended to protect the seedlings from temperature extremes, keep animals and insects from eating the plants, and capture morning dew and moisture to help keep the plants watered.
Teri and I installed about 150 of these tree tubes over seedlings. This called for hammering 150 stakes into the rather hard ground here at the refuge.
Placing tube over seedling.
Mark hammered in about 150 stakes!
Some of the little seedlings were quite hard to find!
After placing the tube over the plant, we covered the top of the tube with a mesh sleeve that is meant to keep birds from nesting in the tubes.
Refuge staff will monitor both the tubed and untubed plants to see if there is a difference in survival and growth.
It will be interesting to come back next year and see how our experiment turned out.