Date of Award
Great Salt Lake (GSL) wetlands provide vital ecosystem services, including habitat for migratory birds. Alkali bulrush (Bolboschoenus maritimus), hardstem bulrush (Schoenoplectus acutus), and three-square bulrush (Schoenoplectus americanus) play an important role in providing these services, but invasion by Phragmites australis has reduced the extent these species in GSL wetlands. Restoring these native bulrushes following Phragmites removal is a primary goal for GSL managers. However, climate change and increasing human water demands upstream may alter the hydropattem of GSL wetlands, leading to lower soil moisture availability and potentially inhibiting germination and establishment of these species. Surfactant seed coatings (SSCs) have been effective in increasing soil moisture availability and plant establishment in dry land systems but have not been tested extensively on wetland species. To understand if an SSC could enhance wetland revegetation projects, we conducted two experiments to test the effect of an SSC on germination and seedling biomass of B. maritimus, S. acutus, and S. americanus. In one experiment, we tested whether the addition of an SSC at a low and high dose to seeds of B. maritimus, S. americanus, and S. acutus increased germination proportion, germination synchrony, and germination rate when moisture level was kept constant in growth chambers. S. acutus had a significantly higher germination proportion at the low and high doses of the SSC compared to uncoated control, while the respective germination proportions of the other species were not different from control. S. acutus had a significantly higher germination synchrony with the low-dose coating compared to control, while there were no significant differences in germination rate in any of the species. In a second experiment, we tested the effect of a low and high dose of the SSC on the per-seedling above-and belowground biomass of these species in growth chambers at three moisture levels. For the low-dose SSC treatment, S. acutus had higher per-seedling aboveground and belowground biomass than control at the intermediate moisture level, while the other species-treatments combinations did not show a clear pattern. These results suggest that this SSC may enhance the germination proportion and synchrony of S. acutus, and under certain conditions may lead to higher seedling biomass of S. acutus. Future research should seek to reproduce these findings and determine if an SSC is a useful tool in wetland revegetation projects.
Hart, Anders, "The Effect of a Surfactant Seed Coating on the Germination and Growth of Three Native Bulrushes" (2019). Undergraduate Honors Capstone Projects. 521.
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Departmental Honors Advisor