Effects of fire season and temperature on a spotted knapweed infested grassland

Zack Pitman
Grand Valley State University
Zack Pitman is a graduate student pursuing his Master’s Degree in Biology at Grand Valley State University under the direction of Dr. Todd Aschenbach. Zack obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Resources Management from GVSU in 2016. Zack’s research interests include restoration ecology and plant community ecology.
Other presenters/researchers: 
Dr. Todd Aschenbach, Grand Valley State University; Katie Walker, Grand Valley State University

Grassland ecosystems face imminent threat from a variety of sources, including invasive species. Chief among these invasive species is spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa). We devised a study to examine the effectiveness of fire as a control agent of spotted knapweed and the allelopathic chemical it produces, (±)-catechin. We conducted our experiment in part of a restored prairie ecosystem at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Barry County, Michigan in summer 2016. Our experiment consisted of burning established 1m² plots at high and low temperatures across spring and summer seasons, then planting six native prairie plant species as a bioassay for the presence of (±)-catechin. Overall, spotted knapweed removal was more effective with summer burns than with spring burns and planted native species established slightly better in burned plots than unburned plots. Results suggest that prescribed burning may be an effective tool for removing spotted knapweed and may aid native species establishment.

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