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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Fire moss as a tool for post-wildfire ecosystem restoration
by Ives, Christopher M., M.S., Northern Arizona University, 2016, 89; 10129633
Abstract (Summary)

Increasingly large and severe fires across the western United States are creating difficult challenges for land managers. Despite the wide usage of current post-fire hillslope treatments, their effectiveness varies. Some research even shows negative impacts, such as the spread of invasive species.

The use of select post-fire colonizing mosses or “fire moss” is a promising post-fire stabilization treatment and longer-term restoration tool that has never been investigated for use in high severity burned environments. Fire mosses possess traits that make them ideal candidates for restoration purposes such as: universal distribution, desiccation tolerance, high water holding capacity, and soil aggregation ability. Fire mosses also are apparently succeeded by vascular plants. Harnessing the restoration power of fire mosses, finding ways to bring them to additional critical post-fire sites, and hastening their arrival on scene could provide a valuable service not currently being utilized. Our research addresses the basic questions surrounding the effectiveness of fire mosses in post-fire stabilization and restoration since there is no know prior work in this field. Field experiments were conducted to determine if fire moss could be grown on post-fire sites. Results show that inoculation increased moss growth by nine times and moss cover was an order of magnitude greater on high severity burned plots than either moderate or unburned plots. Subsequently, greenhouse experiments were conducted to find optimal growth conditions under which an inoculum supply source could be grown for field application. Results show that greatest moss growth occurred under five and seven day per week watering schedules, with fire moss Bryum argenteum constituting a majority of overall moss growth in the less frequent watering schedules suggesting that this moss would be the best candidate for use in marginal fire moss habitat (lower elevation, drier, and more exposed sites). Additionally, mosses Funaria hygrometrica and Ceratodon purpureus grew more prolifically in sample units with ash, while the opposite was true for Bryum argenteum, suggesting that future research should be conducted on the underlying mechanism. Overall, fire moss showed promise as a plausible restoration material, leading us toward future research given its potential to avoid problems caused by other hillslope treatments.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bowker, Matthew A., Thode, Andrea E.
Commitee: Johnson, Nancy C.
School: Northern Arizona University
Department: Forestry
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: MAI 55/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Ecology, Forestry
Keywords: Baer, Bryophyte, Bryum argenteum, Fire moss, Funaria hygrometrica, Restoration
Publication Number: 10129633
ISBN: 978-1-339-87524-8
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