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Permanent link (DOI): https://doi.org/10.7939/R38X45

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Rough fescue (Festuca hallii) ecology and restoration in Central Alberta Open Access

Descriptions

Other title
Subject/Keyword
natural recovery
state and transition
Bromus inermis
Festuca hallii
native hay
restoration
arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
Poa pratensis
ecology
Type of item
Thesis
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Desserud, Peggy Ann
Supervisor and department
Naeth, M. Anne (Renewable Resources)
Examining committee member and department
Willms, Walter D. (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)
Hamann, Andreas (Renewable Resources)
Bork, Edward W. (Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Science)
Fraser, Lauchlan H. (Thompson Rivers University)
Mackenzie, M. Derek (Renewable Resources)
Department
Department of Renewable Resources
Specialization

Date accepted
2011-08-25T18:46:38Z
Graduation date
2011-11
Degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Doctoral
Abstract
Festuca hallii (plains rough fescue), a late-seral bunchgrass and long-lived perennial, is difficult to restore once disturbed. Once dominant in grasslands throughout central Alberta, F. hallii now occurs in remnants, a result of agricultural and residential development, and oil and gas exploration and development. This research program was designed to focus on establishment of F. hallii to provide evidence for predicting successional trends following disturbance. Experiments assessed the reaction of F. hallii and competing species, such as Poa pratensis (Kentucky bluegrass) and Bromus inermis (smooth brome), to disturbed and straw-amended soil. Assessments of pipelines left to natural recovery or seeded with native hay determined if these processes aided F. hallii establishment. Festuca hallii reliance on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) was analyzed, to determine if topsoil storage and subsequent AMF reduction was another factor in poor recovery of F. hallii. A state and transition model was developed for the Rumsey Natural Area, compiling vegetation assessments of historical and recent disturbances. Festuca hallii displayed positive responses to straw treatments, while P. pratensis and B. inermis showed little response, concluding the addition of straw as a soil amendment is a possible solution to poor establishment of F. hallii. When seeded as a monoculture, F. hallii performed best, and plant community development, from seed bank or seed rain, was better than when seeding with a mix of native species. This resulted in a recommendation to seed F. hallii at 15 kg/ha or less with little or no wheat grasses in the seed mix. The straw and AMF experiments had intriguing results regarding F. hallii use of ammonium and pH levels; both showed increased leaf lengths and biomass with reduced ammonium and lower pH. Contrary to the initial hypothesis, F. hallii above ground biomass, root biomass and tiller count increased with decreased AMF colonization. Native hay cut from rough fescue grassland is a viable seed source for restoring disturbances. Festuca hallii appeared to recover better on plough-in pipeline right-of-ways than from seeding, most likely from remnant intact sod; therefore, narrow trenching with plough-in pipelining techniques is recommended for rough fescue grasslands.
Language
English
DOI
doi:10.7939/R38X45
Rights
License granted by Peggy Desserud (desserud@ualberta.ca) on 2011-08-24T17:04:10Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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File title: Microsoft Word - Desserud Dissertation PAD FGSR
File author: Peggy Desserud
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