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Evaluating Strategies for the Restoration and Reestablishment of Native Grasslands in the Foothills Fescue Subregion in Southern Alberta

Authors: Harriet Minc*, University of Calgary, David Goldblum, University of Calgary
Topics: Biogeography, Physical Geography, Canada
Keywords: grasslands, prairie, restoration, biogeography
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Removal of invasive species within the Canadian shortgrass prairie is one of the greatest challenges to native grassland restoration. Invasive species are typically adapted to high grazing and trampling pressures, do not require fire for regeneration, and tolerate a wide range of climatic conditions. These exotic species are aggressive and spread quickly through rhizomes, allowing for invasive grass species such as Bromus inermis (smooth brome) and Poa pratensis (Kentucky bluegrass) to outcompete native grasses in Alberta. This is exacerbated by the alteration of fire regimes, extirpation of native grazers, and climate change. We investigated strategies for the restoration of a disturbed grassland through several treatments: mowing, plowing, herbicide application, carbon addition, and native seed addition. An initial vegetative census was carried out within the treatment plots, and the plots were monitored three times throughout the 2019 growing season. Within each plot, the total number of species and the number of individuals per species was tallied. Additionally, bare soil percentage was recorded, and harvest sampling was completed to calculate aboveground biomass in each plot. At the end of the sampling period, soil samples were collected to test for carbon, nitrogen, pH, and salinity differences. To assess the results of the study, ordination will be completed at a community level. Preliminary results indicate that mowing and seeding return the highest level of diversity, and mowing, herbicide application, and seeding returns the greatest evenness. Following the further assessment of the results, recommendations will be made in accordance to the most successful treatment methodology.

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