Lindsey Christine Dewey


Presentation: 9:00-10:15, Kennedy Union Ballroom



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In the last century, worldwide, there has been an increase in the amount of abandoned agricultural land. In eastern North America, restoration efforts often focus on trying to restore these post agricultural fields to native forest. The natural secondary succession of post-agricultural landscapes is hindered by many barriers including diminished carbon and nitrogen in the soil, herbivory, disruption of symbiotic mycorrhizal relationships, and invasive species. Restoration efforts such as applying seeding mixes to reduce invasive species, plant legumes to restore nitrogen to the soil, whole soil additions to help restore the microbial community, and the addition of mulch to add carbon into the soil are being used to mitigate these barriers. Abandoned fields represent a unique opportunity to help restore some of the eastern North American native forest; however, ensuring tree seedling success in the relatively inhospitable conditions of a post-agricultural field remains a significant challenge. Working with our community partners, Five Rivers Metroparks (Dayton, Ohio) we established a fully replicated restoration experiment on a 12 ha post agricultural field in the Spring Run Conservation Area. We established 20 plots and assigned one of four prairie plant seed mixes: high diversity + high legume content; high diversity + low legume content; low diversity + high legume content; low diversity + low legume content. Each plot was also split into four subplots that received one of four soil amendments: no amendment (control), whole soil transplant, mulch application, and whole soil and mulch. In each subplot, six bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) saplings were planted. The height and basal diameter of each surviving sapling was measured in the spring of 2022 directly after planting, after one growing season in the fall of 2022, and after a second growing season in the fall of 2023. One sample was collected from every subplot in the fall of 2022 and 2023 to measure sapling biomass and examine the ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF) and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) root colonization. After two growing seasons the seed mixes significantly affected the basal diameter of oak saplings and sapling root weight was higher in the high diversity plots. Additionally, increased EMF colonization was positively correlated with increased sapling height. However, in our study many treatments had no significant effect on the success of bur oak saplings. It is likely that microclimates and herbivory had the strongest influence on bur oak sapling success.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research

Primary Advisor

Ryan W. McEwan

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

Institutional Learning Goals


The effects of prairie seed mix composition and soil amendments on Quercus macrocarpa seedling success during post-agricultural restoration