COS 119-1 - Novel nutrient sources and site preparation facilitate root growth and hence restoration success in degraded ecosystems

Thursday, August 11, 2011: 1:30 PM
18C, Austin Convention Center
Katinka X. Ruthrof, Tegan K. Douglas, Michael C. Calver, Bernard Dell and Giles E. St.J. Hardy, Centre of Excellence for Climate Change, Woodland and Forest Health, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia

Land degradation is a global issue. Ecological restoration techniques need to be improved in degraded areas to undertake restoration successfully at a scale never seen before using the smallest amounts of valuable propagules and minimal management intervention. Site preparation techniques and plant treatments may significantly increase restoration success. This could be due to the increased availability of vertical preferential flow pathways which seedlings follow, increasing root length and the speed at which they reach the moisture zone prior to the long hot summer period. This facilitation will become increasingly important in the face of global warming, especially in regions where a drying trend is predicted. We gathered knowledge from many sources, including local community groups, chemical companies and ecologists, and aimed to mimic conditions that occur during natural recruitment to increase restoration success. With the assistance of a highly invested community group, we established field trials and compared early seedling establishment and growth following site preparation techniques and newly developed nutrient sources which aimed to a) increase the availability of preferential flow paths through the soil profile and b) increase root growth prior to the summer period.


The site preparation techniques and novel plant treatments increased root growth and depth and hence restoration success in degraded woodlands. If these site and plant treatments increase survival success of a range of other seedlings in different soil types, we can focus on minimum management intervention techniques and hence save time and resources in restoration activities. This work has implications for a wide range of activities within restoration of degraded systems, including for buffering existing ecosystems from shifting climatic boundaries to prevent biodiversity loss, for biosequestration and reafforestation projects.

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