Date of Award:
Master of Science (MS)
Karen H. Beard
Abandoned agricultural lands in the Intermountain West are plagued by dense, persistent non-native vegetation. Targeted restoration tools are required to remove the competitive advantage of these non-natives while also removing the soil legacies they leave behind. Activated carbon (AC) is one such tool, with the ability to disrupt the mechanisms of allelopathy, positive plant-soil feedbacks, and altered nutrient cycling commonly used by non-native species. Previous studies have shown the success of high concentrations of AC in native plant community restoration on a small scale. Here, our goals are twofold: first, to test AC effectiveness in restoring desirable plant communities on a larger scale, and secondly, to identify the primary mechanism, allelopathy versus microbial changes, through which AC impacts native and non-native species. A large scale AC treatment in Methow Valley, Washington tested the effectiveness of AC restoration at a large scale and tested five concentrations and two types of AC to determine lowest effective application. Following treatment, sites were monitored for vegetation cover for three years. The large-scale application produced similar results to the previous study at a 1000 g/m2 application rate, with a 28% increase in the ratio of desirable:undesirable species cover and a decrease to 25% undesirable species cover. However, the effectiveness of AC concentrations below 1000 g/m2 cannot yet be determined and may require a longer time scale and additional monitoring to assess restoration success. A greenhouse experiment was performed, which used native and non-native species common to the study site, grown in pairs in sterilized and live AC-treated soils to separate AC effects on allelopathy from that of microbial interactions. Both native and non-native species experienced a 25% decreased biomass in AC-treated live soils, with a minimal decrease in A- treated sterile soils for native species and no effect in AC-treated sterile soils for non-native species. Overall, AC live soils produced a positive effect on relative abundance; the ratio of native to non-native biomass was highest in AC-treated live soils. From these results, it is concluded that the primary pathway through which AC works is changes in the plant-microbial interactions of both native and non-native species.
Nolan, Nicole E., "Activated Carbon Decreases Invasive Plant Growth by Mediating Plant-Microbe Interactions" (2014). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 4250.
Copyright for this work is retained by the student. If you have any questions regarding the inclusion of this work in the Digital Commons, please email us at .