Restoration of Native-Dominated Plant Communities on a Spotted Knapweed-Infested Site

Neil W. MacDonald
Grand Valley State University, Biology Department
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 accepted a position at GVSU, where he has been on the faculty 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.
Other presenters/researchers: 
Kaitlyn M. Emelander, Grand Valley State University; Laurelin M. Martin, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

We studied the effects of seeding, site preparation (mowing, mowing + clopyralid, mowing + glyphosate), hand pulling of spotted knapweed, and burning on native plant community restoration on a degraded site in western Michigan. Native species established on all seeded plots, regardless of site preparation method. Persistent hand pulling provided the most effective knapweed control. Burning increased relative cover of native graminoids, while hand pulling and burning in combination increased relative cover of native forbs. After eight years, relative cover of native grasses and forbs was only 12.7 ± 3.7% in untreated areas, but ranged from 59.1 ± 3.8% on seeded plots that received only site preparation to 89.9 ± 2.4% on seeded plots that also received hand pulling and burning. The restored communities had greater numbers of native species and higher values of C̄, FQI, and Shannon’s diversity index than untreated areas, all indicators of a successful restoration trajectory.

Poster Division: 
Non-student