Date of Award

3-2021

Culminating Project Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Biological Sciences - Ecology and Natural Resources: M.S.

Department

Biology

College

College of Science and Engineering

First Advisor

Jorge Arriagada

Second Advisor

Mikhail Blinnikov

Third Advisor

Neal Voelz

Fourth Advisor

Jason Linkert

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Invasive Species, Flora Populations, Prescribed Fire, Vegetative Strategies

Abstract

This thesis study addressed the effectiveness of prescribed fire to control invasive plant populations in native habitats within various Camp Ripley Training Sites of Morrison County, Minnesota. Three invasive species, prevalently abundant across the base, were assessed for their reaction to fire. Spotted knapweed (Centaurea stoebe ssp. micranthos) , common tansy (Tanacetum vulgare L.), and baby’s breath (Gypsophila paniculata L.) are all problematic for habitat managers because they rapidly reproduce, erode and degrade soil integrity, inhibit native vegetation, and expend costly resources. The purpose of this study was to evaluate prescribed fire’s effectiveness in managing several types of invasive flora populations and the response native plant populations have in the presence of invasive species. Using two types of experimental techniques, cover and density were analyzed among the different plant communities before and after fire was prescribed to the sites. Each plant species was classified by their vegetative strategy and native status to categorize the various types of flora. To quantify cover in spotted knapweed and common tansy study areas, a systematic sampling design using a gridded-quadrant frame was utilized. In the baby’s breath study area, a semi-quantitative technique using an open frame was used to evaluate cover and density. From prefire to postfire observations in the spotted knapweed plot, means of native status and competitive strategists declined while means of introduced species, ruderal strategists, and bare soil counts increased. Among the common tansy study site, flora of a native status and invasive status demonstrated a mean increase from prefire to postfire observations. Stress-tolerant and CSR vegetative strategists also showed a mean increase as well. In the baby’s breath study area, measurements analyzed fire’s effect on the entire area and was also differentiated by the types of fire behavior applied to the site. From prefire to post fire observations, the means of invasive and native flora rose and the means of ruderal and stress-tolerant strategists increased as well. When comparing head fire to backfire plots, means of native plants and ruderal strategists also increased. Results of this study indicate that there is still much to learn on how fire affects invasive and native flora populations. Ecologists and land managers play a critical role in evaluating different techniques used for habitat management and restoration. It is recommended that future research focuses on how fire can be used as a control method combined with chemical application.

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