Date of Award
Master of Science
Arundinaria gigantea (Walt.) Muhl. (giant cane) is a native North American bamboo. The mass assemblages of giant cane stems (culms) can form monotypic stands called "canebrakes" with historic distribution encompassing floodplains of the southeastern United States. Canebrake ecosystems have served as an important habitat for a variety of mammalian, avian, and reptilian species due in part by the protective nature the dense culms provide. Also, giant cane also can serve as an effective riparian zone buffer for the protection of water quality. Land conversion and altered disturbance regimes have reduced cane to 2% of historical accounts. Consistently, there is great interest in restoring canebrake ecosystems. However, canebrake restoration efforts face difficulties such as infrequent seeding and low viability, limited availability of seedlings or rhizome planting stock, and inefficient establishment and management techniques. To address these problems, two studies were designed to further develop giant cane propagation thereby aiding management efforts intended in restoring canebrake ecosystems. Study 1 (greenhouse) objective was to compare the survivability and growth responses of bare rhizomes and rhizomes with attached and trimmed culms with different planting orientation. Study design was a randomized complete block with approximately 20 rhizomes of each propagule type (bare rhizomes, rhizomes with culms trimmed to 3cm and rhizomes with culms trimmed to 20cm) planted in two orientations (buried flat or angled and partially exposed) in each of 4 benches (N=239). Propagule type and planting orientation were determined randomly. After six months, propagule survival was 86% and was independent of orientation (chi square 1df = 1.56, p=0.212) and propagule type (chi square 2df =3.88, p=3.88). There was an interaction between planting orientation and propagule type for the number of new rhizomes and culms, above ground biomass, but not for newly formed rhizome diameter or cumulative culm and rhizome length. Rhizome propagules with attached trimmed culms produced, on average, one more rhizome and were 71 cm longer than newly formed rhizomes from the bare rhizome propagules. Planting orientation had no effect on any measured character of long culmed propagules, burying the short-culmed or bare rhizomes tended to reduce growth responses. However, among exposed propagules, growth responses tended to be similar. Study 2 (field-scale) objective was to determine if genotype (3 collection sources) and collection season/ planting season (C/P) (fall/fall, fall/spring, spring/spring) affect survival and growth of giant cane. Study design was a randomized complete block design with between 12 and 20 bare rhizomes per each of 3 collection sources (subplots) planted in each of 3 rows (collection season/ planting season main plots) blocked 6 times across 2 sites (N=2086). Location of collection sources within subplots and C/P within plots were randomly chosen. Rhizomes were planted in rows using a tree planter. Mean survival of cane plants after one growing season was similar at each site with a mean of 11.1%. Survival was dependent on collection source and C/P seasons. Survival ranged from a high of 38.3% for the spring/spring planted Upper Cache River source to 0.4% for two of the other 9 treatment combinations. Collecting and planting rhizomes in the spring for two of the three collection sources produced the highest percent survival compared to stock collected in the fall then planted or stored until spring. These results suggest the importance of collection source, collection season, planting season, propagule morphology and orientation on the survival and new growth of giant cane in southern Illinois.
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