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Case Study: Plant-soil interactions in the South Puget Sound Prairies. Persistence of prairie vegetation attributed to: Low summer precipitation Excessively drained gravelly soils Historically they frequently burned Strong interspecies competition

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Case Study:

Plant-soil interactions in the South Puget Sound Prairies



Scot s broom cytisus scoparius
Scot’s Broom (Cytisus scoparius)

  • Shrub that grows to 2 m

  • Native to Europe

  • Nitrogen fixer

  • Accumulates quinolizidine alkaloids in its leaves



Does the legacy of scot s broom increase the growth and competitiveness of invasive plants
Does the legacy of Scot’s broom increase the growth and competitiveness of invasive plants?

Hypochaeris radicata

Widely distributed invasive plant that is very common in the prairies

Festuca roemeri

Dominant native vascular plant

Microseris laciniata

Common native forb


Greenhouse experiment
Greenhouse Experiment competitiveness of invasive plants?

  • Three soil treatments

    • LB: Soils from areas with historically low cover of Scot’s broom

    • HB: Soils from areas with historically high cover of Scot’s broom

    • HB+N: HB soils with nitrogen added as 5 g/m2 of N as NH4-NO3

  • Five species combinations:

    • Monocultures of each species (3 total)

    • Festuca grown in competition with Hypochaeris

    • Festuca grown in competition with Microseris

  • Measurements:

    • Total Biomass

    • Leaf chlorophyll level (Hypochaeris only)

    • Competition

      • RCI: Difference in biomass between monoculture and competition treatments divided by the biomass in monoculture treatment



Growth after 20 weeks
Growth after 20 weeks Glacial Heritage Preserve

High-broom

Soils

(HB)

Low-broom

Soils

(LB)

Festuca roemeri

Hypochaeris radicata

Microseris laciniata


Festuca roemeri Glacial Heritage Preserve

Hypochaeris radicata

Microseris laciniata


Hypochaeris radicata Glacial Heritage Preserve


Species competition and n enrichment
Species competition and N-enrichment Glacial Heritage Preserve

Competition between Festuca and Hypochaeris

Competition between Festuca and Microseris

RCIs for Festuca vary significant by competitor identity (2x3 ANOVA, d.f. error = 28, P < 0.0001)

LB soils

HB soils

HB+N soils


Questions raised by the experiment
Questions raised by the experiment Glacial Heritage Preserve

  • What possible explanations are there for the higher total N found in the low broom (LB) soils?

  • Is there a plausible explanation for the lower chlorophyll levels measured in Hypochaeris leaves in LB soils?

  • What possible mechanisms can explain the 2 to 3 times biomass accumulation in the native species Festuca and Microseris in LB soils?


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