Between 2012 and 2017, we assessed the success of vegetation plug transplants on Mount Yale, in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area in Colorado. Plugs either contained cushion plants or were a blend of forbs and grasses and did not contain cushion plants. Plugs were transplanted into an old trail to revegetate, and to discourage further use of, the old trail. Previous anectodal evidence claimed that cushion plants would not survive transplanting as plugs. We hypothesized that plugs containing cushion plants would survive as well as plugs without cushion plants. We also hypothesized that plugs containing cushion plants would show greater species richness than plugs without cushion plants.
We found that plugs with a mix of plants, including cushions, survived better than plugs of grass alone (p = 0.006). We also found that plugs with cushion plants had higher species richness than plugs with only grass (p = 0.03). Because facilitation of other species is well documented in cushion plants, we suggest that cushion plants are actually useful as plugs for revegetation projects in alpine communities.