Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Wildland Resources


Juan J. Villalba


Jennifer R. Reeve

Third Advisor:

Daniel D. Cook


Plants naturally produce primary and secondary metabolites. Primary metabolites are directly involved with plant growth and metabolic function. Plant secondary metabolites (PSM) were once thought of as metabolic waste products, and more recently viewed as toxins to herbivores. However, ongoing research shows that PSM are beneficial to herbivores at low doses, and PSM aid plants by attracting pollinators, recovering from injury, protecting from ultraviolet radiation, increasing drought tolerance, and aid in defense against pathogens, diseases, and herbivores. Plant secondary metabolites also influence soil nutrient cycling, and can increase the sustainability of agroecosystems. Endophyte-infected tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) , which contains ergovaline, and reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea L.), containing gramine, were studied along with the legumes alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) which contains saponins, and tannin-containing sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia Scop.) and birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.). This dissertation researches (i) how planting configuration (monocultures vs. two-way mixtures) influences PSM and total N in plants, (ii) how cattle grazing forages containing PSM affects soil quality, nutrient cycling, and PSM, and (iii) how cattle manure from different diets, containing different PSM, influences soil nutrient cycling.