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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Ecosystem Restoration

Prairie Grass Establishment on Calcareous Reclaimed Mine Soil


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 40 No. 6, p. 1824-1834
    Received: Feb 6, 2010

    * Corresponding author(s): thorne.36@osu.edu
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  1. Mark Thorne *a and
  2. John Cardinab
  1. a Environmental Science Graduate Program, The Ohio State Univ., Columbus, OH 43210
    b Dep. of Horticulture and Crop Science, Ohio Agricultural and Research Development Center and The Ohio State Univ., Wooster, OH 44691. Assigned to Associate Editor Andrew Tye


Reclaimed Appalachian surface mined lands have difficulty in sustaining native deciduous forest communities. Establishing prairie communities could increase ecosystem function; however, a native model system does not exist. We evaluated establishment of 15 North American prairie grasses as monocultures on reclaimed mine soil in southeast Ohio in four randomized complete blocks planted May 2005 and 2006. Population density was assessed 30 d after planting (30 DAP) and in October of the planting year (YR1) and second year following planting (YR2) and expressed as percentage of viable seeds sown (PVSS). Canopy cover of nonnative species reestablishing in the plots was measured in 2007. Eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides L.) population was >50 PVSS in all censuses. Western wheatgrass [Pascopyrum smithii (Rydb.) A. Löve] was initially 7 PVSS at 30 DAP, but increased to 154 PVSS by YR2 from rhizomes spreading into gaps. Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii Vitman) was 7 PVSS at 30 DAP and 4 PVSS at YR2. Blue grama [Bouteloua gracilis (Willd. ex Kunth) Lag. ex Griffiths] and sideoats grama [Bouteloua curtipendula (Michx.) Torr.] did not survive past YR1. Gaps left from poor stand establishment were primarily recolonized by nonnative Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) in the 2005 planting and birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.) in the 2006 planting, but was least in eastern gamagrass and tall dropseed [Sporobolus asper (P. Beauv.) Kunth]. This research demonstrates the potential for increasing diversity and species richness on mine soil habitats with regionally native grasses that could increase functional quality through ecological resilience.

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