Abstract Detail

Stress-tolerant mosses: adaptations to life on the edge, from genes to ecosystems

Bailey, Lydia [1], Bowker, Matthew [2].

Recipes for restoration: adding moss to the treatment mix in Washington sagebrush.

Restoration islands are smaller areas within a larger degraded ecosystem where land managers focus high intensity interventions aiming to create small but resilient communities of native vegetation which will spread over time. Incorporating biocrust, which can return soil function, support plant growth, and exclude invasive plants, may enhance the success of restoration islands. Biocrusts are the community of moss, lichen, cyanobacteria and other soil organisms which live in and bind the soil surface and provide vital services to arid landscapes. Through two field experiments, we tested the addition of biocrust to restoration islands in a retired pasture in central Washington which the Bureau of Land Managers are restoring to a diverse sagebrush ecosystem. Each restoration island was mowed to reduce non-native plant biomass, seeded with native species, planted with greenhouse grown perennial species, and receives ongoing weeding. In experiment one we bulked salvaged material and compared success rates of field collected versus cultivated biocrust. A primary challenge in scaling up biocrust restoration is the scarcity of biocrust materials. Salvaging biocrust from soils with upcoming disturbances can provide significant volumes of materials but is not always possible. Cultivating salvaged biocrust materials (bulking) into larger volumes would allow managers to maximize their restored area while minimizing their salvage footprint. In experiment two we attempted to find the threshold for best inoculation rate. Identifying the minimum effective application rate will allow practitioners to restore the largest possible area with a given amount of inoculum. For experiment one, we bulked salvaged crust in an outdoor growing array with supplement shade and water in Wenatchee, WA from October 2018 to May 2019 and increased their cover by 13%. To test the establishment rate of bulked versus salvaged crust, we conducted a field experiment in ten restoration islands where we treated four 1.5m2 plots with either 1) no added biocrust 2) wild salvaged biocrust 3) bulked biocrust or 4) bulked biocrust treated with abscisic acid to reduce rehydration stress. After two years, we found that wild salvaged biocrust retained higher cover than bulked biocrust with or without abscisic acid or untreated plots. In experiment two we applied salvaged biocrust at inoculation rates from 0-40% cover at 2% steps on 21 1.5m2 plots, replicated in two restoration islands. We monitored biocrust cover for two years after treatment and found that increasing inoculation rate yielded linear increases in biocrust cover up to a 30% inoculation rate. Inoculation rates higher than 30% did not yield a proportional increase in biocrust cover compared to the 30% plots. We still need work to achieve better establishment of cultivated biocrust organisms in field plots. Inoculating sagebrush ecosystem restoration sites with field salvaged biocrust materials at a rate of 30% cover will maximize the treated area with the highest likelihood of biocrust establishment. We successfully established islands of biocrust in degraded farm fields. Longer term monitoring will determine if the islands provide additional benefit and recovery to the surrounding areas.

1 - Northern Arizona University, School of Forestry, 200 E Pine Knoll Dr, Flagstaff, AZ, 8600`, USA
2 - Northern Arizona University, School of Forestry, Flagstaff, AZ, United States


Presentation Type: Colloquium Presentations
Number: C5012
Abstract ID:709
Candidate for Awards:None

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