Burning Effects on the Development of a Restored Native Plant Community

Establishment of native plant communities on degraded sites often requires control of invasive species such as spotted knapweed (Centaurea stoebe L.), but the persistence of knapweed in restored plant communities is uncertain. Since 2009, we have studied the effects of various treatments, including burning, on native plant community development on a knapweed-infested site in western Michigan. Prescribed burns were conducted in spring 2012, 2014, and 2015, with fire intensities varying with timing, weather, and grass cover. Burning has increased bare soil, reduced non-native grass and forb cover, and increased cover of native grasses. While burning also has increased the cover of certain native forbs such as sand coreopsis and butterfly weed, it has decreased the cover of others, including horsemint and wild bergamot. Knapweed cover has been declining on all treatments, but burning effects on knapweed have been slow to develop. In 2015, burning significantly decreased mature knapweed densities.

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Friday, January 15, 2016 - 11:00am to 11:15am
Neil W. MacDonald
Grand Valley State University
Neil MacDonald is a Professor of Biology and Natural Resources Management and Chair of the Biology Department at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. He received a BS in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan SNR in 1976, a MS in Forestry from Michigan State University in 1983, and a PhD in Forest Soils and Ecology in 1987, also from MSU. Following postdoctoral studies at the University of Michigan SNRE from 1987 to 1994, he has been on the faculty at GVSU since 1994. The courses he has taught in the Natural Resources Management Program at GVSU include Introduction to Natural Resources, Resource Measurements and Mapping, Watershed and Wetland Management, Forest Ecosystem Management, Land Reclamation, and the graduate capstone, Perspectives in Biology. His research interests include watershed restoration and management, invasive species control, and restoration of native plant communities on disturbed sites.
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Kaitlyn M. Emelander Undergraduate Student Grand Valley State University