The tiny things that restore the prairie: the impacts of selective planting and soil amendments on microbial activity during the restoration of a degraded agriculture field in the American Midwest
Ellie Adriana Wasilewski
Many forests and prairies have been cleared for agricultural purposes, resulting in ecological degradation and altered biological communities. In recent years, agricultural land has been left fallow and is ripe for restoration back to native ecosystems. Abandoned agriculture results in a deficiency of nitrogen and carbon, changing the microbial activity in the soil. Restoring microbial community function can improve nutrient cycling and enhance plant species establishment during restoration. Restoration efforts, including soil amendments and selective planting are used to increase the nutrient content of the soil, and can improve microbial function. It has been suggested that these efforts may accelerate ecological succession. We assessed plant cover and enzyme activities of peroxidase, phenol oxidase, and beta glucosidases one year following the addition of leaf compost, whole soil transplant, and selective seeding on a 20 acre post-agricultural field. Here, we report the response of soil microorganism function, via enzyme activity, to planted seeds and soil amendments one year after restoration implementation. Phenol oxidase, peroxidase, and beta glucosidase have lower activity where there are more grass species. When there is a high presence of grass species, more niche space is taken up and more nitrogen and carbon is being used by the grasses leaving less available for microorganisms. Beta glucosidase is shown to be higher with whole soil treatment. Whole soil amendments could have introduced new nutrients that were previously absent and microbes that could uptake nutrients more readily than the microbes present in the degraded field. Peroxidase activity is higher where there was low diversity and high legume concentration and lowest in low richness low legume and high richness high legume concentrations. Understanding how microorganism activities can be altered using soil amendments and selective planting can help restorationists support healthy ecological succession.
Ryan W. McEwan, Michaela Jean Woods
Primary Advisor's Department
Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work
Stander Symposium project, College of Arts and Sciences
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Life on Land
"The tiny things that restore the prairie: the impacts of selective planting and soil amendments on microbial activity during the restoration of a degraded agriculture field in the American Midwest" (2022). Stander Symposium Projects. 2628.