Worldwide, the invasion of nitrogen (N)-fixing, non-native species negatively impacts plant communities via the displacement of native species, alteration of community structure, changes in nutrient availability and other soil characteristics. These effects can persist for years even after non-native species removal. There is a critical need for reliable, evidence-based and cost-effective methods for assessing the response of native species to variation in nutrient availability, especially in the context of restoration following invasive plant management. My dissertation examined the use of plant functional traits as a tool to understand plant responses to altered nutrient availability. I conducted a field study to evaluate shifts in nutrient limitation and plant functional traits in a native shrub species, Rhus trilobata Nutt. (skunkbush sumac), resulting from Elaeagnus angustifolia L. (Russian olive) invasion and removal, focusing on five plant functional traits: Specific Leaf Area (SLA), Leaf Dry Mass Content (LDMC), as well as Foliar-N, -P and -N:P ratio. I also conducted greenhouse experiments examining how varying levels of phosphorus P and N additions affected the growth (biomass) and two foliar traits (SLA and LMDC) in three native shrub species (R. trilobata, Ribes aureum, and Shepherdia argentea), two native grass species (Pascopyrum smithii and Pseudoroegneria spicata) and one non-native grass species (Bromus inermis). Lastly, I evaluated the application of targeted P amendments in the root zone to promote the establishment and growth of transplanted R. trilobata following Russian olive removal. The results of my dissertation research first highlight the idea that nutrient limitation and functional trait responses to N and P are species-specific. Second, foliar functional traits did not appear to be reliable indicators of nutrient-availability or -limitation, both in the field with R. trilobata, and in the greenhouse, in each of the six study species. Lastly, P addition did not promote native shrub performance following management of Russian olive and SLA and LMDC, were unaffected by P addition.
|Advisor:||Collier, Timothy, Mealor, Brian|
|Commitee:||Norton, Urszula, Hufford, Kristina, Stahl, Pete|
|School:||University of Wyoming|
|Department:||Ecosystem Science and Management|
|School Location:||United States -- Wyoming|
|Source:||DAI-B 82/8(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Ecology, Genetics, Plant sciences, Conservation biology|
|Keywords:||Functional trait variation, Russian Olive, Elaeagnus angustifolia|
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