Phyto-edaphic relationships and ecotypic development of Festuca idahoensis in eastern Oregon habitat types of Artemisia tridentata Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/n009w4979

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  • This research assessed certain specific plant-soil and community interrelationships in eastern Oregon habitat types dominated by subspecies of Artemisia tridentata. The first evaluation described plant-induced soil chemical patterns for Artemisia tridentata plant communities of high perennial grass-low shrub and low perennial grass-high shrub composition. Soil concentrations of total nitrogen, organic matter, potassium and phosphorus were greater in surface horizons under shrub influenced soils than bare soil areas or soils influenced by grasses. Magnesium concentrations generally increased in lower soil horizons. Less distinct soil chemical patterns were apparent as soil depth increased. Percentage of land area occupied by sagebrush, perennial grasses and bare soil interspaces changed as range condition declined. The second investigation assessed ecotypic development in Festuca idahoensis from sagebrush and pine communities. Results from a transplant garden indicated ramets from a Pinus ponderosa site were slower in phenological development and exhibited greater vegetative growth than collections from three lower elevation A. tridentata habitat types. Within collections from sagebrush sites, similar phenological timing was observed. Vegetative and floral development was reduced in plants selected from a habitat type dominated by A. tridentata ssp. wyomingensis in comparison to ramets gathered from a high and low elevation A. tridentata spp. vaseyana habitat type. Evaluation of germination characteristics under conditions of controlled temperature and moisture stress revealed differences in relation to collection site. Seeds gathered from a Pinus ponderosa dominated community exhibited reduced germination under stress conditions. It was concluded response in F. idahoensis ecotypes to controlled environmental conditions reflected adaptational genetics of plants from the various collection sites. The final assessment involved characterization of vegetation and soils for the Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis/Festuca idahoensis habitat type. This habitat type had not previously been described for other intermountain rangeland areas. Idaho fescue was the dominant understory perennial in climax communities, with Poa sandbergii, Sitanion hystrix and A. tridentata ssp. wyomingensis increasing as range condition declined. Bromus tectorum was most prevalent on sites with coarse textured soils.
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