Date of Award
Master of Science
AN ABSTRACT OF THE THESIS OF MARGARET MARZIYE ANDERSON, for the Masters of Science degree in Forestry, presented on September 12th, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. FIRE AND FERTILIZATION EFFECTS ON THE GROWTH AND EXPANSION OF EXISTING NATIVE CANEBRAKES [ARUNDINARIA GIGANTEA (WALT) MUHL] IN SOUTHERN ILLINOIS MAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Jon Schoonover Giant cane [Arundinaria gigantea (Walt) Muhl.], a native bamboo, is an integral component of bottomland forests in the southeastern United States. Cane occurs as monodominant stands, also known as canebrakes, which historically covered vast areas of land. As a result of land conversion, overgrazing and altered fire regimes, an alarming 98% reduction of canebrakes has occurred. Due to the ecological significance of giant cane as wildlife habitat, a riparian buffer, its role in soil stabilization and potential as woody biomass, restoration interest has increased. Research with planted cane indicated fertilization and burning had interacting effects on cane growth, however in remnant natural stands, the influence of burning and fertilization on canebrake growth and spread is unknown. This study examined the survival and growth response of cane to burning and fertilization in remnant stands to provide guidance for rehabilitation, restoration and management. Four treatment plots were replicated eight times across seven sites in canebrakes growing in riparian zones adjacent to agricultural fields in the Cache River Watershed, Illinois. The four treatments were randomized factorial design of: 1) burning, 2) fertilization, 3) burning/fertilization, or 4) control. Within treatment plots, two interior and three exterior 1-m² subplots were randomly established to measure culm density (stems/ha), height (cm), diameter (mm), and spread (increase in live culm density by the outward movement from interior subplots into exterior subplots) prior to treatment and after one and two growing seasons. Fertilized and fertilized/burned plots were treated in summers of 2011 and 2012 with a half corn rate of nitrogen (56 kg ha-1), phosphorus (22 kg ha-1), and potassium (37 kg ha-1). Prescribed burning took place in March 2012. Data were analyzed using a three way analysis of variance (fire, fertilization and subplot) (α = 0.05). At year 0 (2011), culm density, height and diameter were not significantly different among treatments. By year 2, live culm density in interior plots slightly increased, however density in exterior plots tended to more than double, indicating canebrake expansion over time. Fertilization tended to increase height and had little effect on cane diameter. Research suggests that cane typically increases in both height and diameter simultaneously, suggesting that fertilization only partially provides the resources needed to stimulate growth. Further analysis on fertilization application rates and timing may be necessary to ascertain the efficiency of its role in culm growth and development. Giant cane responded to prescribed burning through a decrease in height and culm diameter. However, fire increased culm density through stimulation of the growth of new culms. In addition, though fire consumed a portion of existing culms, the canebrake emerged vigorously, demonstrating prescribed fire's utility as a tool for land managers to reduce competition and increase canebrake health and expansion.
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