Degraded soil increases the performance of a dominant grass, Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem)

Degraded soil increases the performance of a dominant grass, Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem) Dominant grasses can suppress subordinate species in grassland restorations. Examining factors that influence performance of a dominant grass when interacting with subordinate forbs may provide insights for maintaining plant community diversity. The objective of our study was to determine how soils of different restoration ages and functionally different forbs influence the performance (using biomass and tillering rate as proxies) of a dominant grass: Andropogon gerardii. Sites included a cultivated field and two restored prairies (4 or 16 years after restoration) at Konza Prairie (NE Kansas). We hypothesized A. gerardii performance would be greater in more degraded soils and when interacting with legumes. Soil structure, nutrient status, and microbial biomass were measured in soil that was used to conduct the plant interaction study. Andropogon gerardii performance was measured during an 18-week greenhouse experiment using the relative yield index calculated from net absolute tillering rate and final biomass measurements in three soil restoration age treatments combined with four interacting forb treatments. Restoration improved soil structure, reduced plant-available nutrients, and increased microbial biomass. Relative yield index values of A. gerardii were greater with non-legumes than legumes. Andropogon gerardii performed best in degraded soils, which may explain the difficulty in restoring tallgrass prairie diversity in long-term cultivated soil. Results from this study suggest practices that promote soil aggregation and fungal biomass, coupled with including a high abundance of legumes in seed mixes could reduce dominance of A. gerardii and likely increase plant diversity in tallgrass prairie restorations. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Plant Ecology Springer Journals

Degraded soil increases the performance of a dominant grass, Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem)

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Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Copyright
Copyright © 2018 by Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature
Subject
Life Sciences; Ecology; Plant Ecology; Community & Population Ecology; Terrestial Ecology; Applied Ecology; Biodiversity
ISSN
1385-0237
eISSN
1573-5052
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11258-018-0844-0
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Dominant grasses can suppress subordinate species in grassland restorations. Examining factors that influence performance of a dominant grass when interacting with subordinate forbs may provide insights for maintaining plant community diversity. The objective of our study was to determine how soils of different restoration ages and functionally different forbs influence the performance (using biomass and tillering rate as proxies) of a dominant grass: Andropogon gerardii. Sites included a cultivated field and two restored prairies (4 or 16 years after restoration) at Konza Prairie (NE Kansas). We hypothesized A. gerardii performance would be greater in more degraded soils and when interacting with legumes. Soil structure, nutrient status, and microbial biomass were measured in soil that was used to conduct the plant interaction study. Andropogon gerardii performance was measured during an 18-week greenhouse experiment using the relative yield index calculated from net absolute tillering rate and final biomass measurements in three soil restoration age treatments combined with four interacting forb treatments. Restoration improved soil structure, reduced plant-available nutrients, and increased microbial biomass. Relative yield index values of A. gerardii were greater with non-legumes than legumes. Andropogon gerardii performed best in degraded soils, which may explain the difficulty in restoring tallgrass prairie diversity in long-term cultivated soil. Results from this study suggest practices that promote soil aggregation and fungal biomass, coupled with including a high abundance of legumes in seed mixes could reduce dominance of A. gerardii and likely increase plant diversity in tallgrass prairie restorations.

Journal

Plant EcologySpringer Journals

Published: May 31, 2018

References

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