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Title: The tri-soil experiment: do plants discriminate among vegetation soil types?

item Blank, Robert - Bob
item Morgan, Tye

Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/10/2011
Publication Date: 1/8/2012
Citation: Blank, R.R., Morgan, T.A. 2012. The tri-soil experiment: do plants discriminate among vegetation soil types?. In: Abstracts 2012 Annual Meeting of the Society for Range Management, Spokane, WA. Jan. 28-Feb. 3, 2012.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: We tested if rooting mass and root nutrient uptake of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) or creeping wildrye (Leymus triticoides) were influenced by vegetation soil type. Three soil types (A horizons), similar in gross physical and chemical properties, were freshly-collected. The soils varied in the vegetation they supported: big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanta), and winterfat invaded by cheatgrass for 10 years. Using a template, the three soils were placed in equal volumes in replicate 5400 cm3 cylindrical containers. Seeds of either cheatgrass or creeping wildrye (7 replicates each) were placed in the center of each container. Containers were watered evenly over soil type with deionized water and allowed to grow for 102 days. At harvest, roots in each vegetation soil type were dried, weighed, and analyzed for nutrients. In addition, each vegetation soil type was homogenized and several nutrients quantified. For both cheatgrass and creeping wildrye, root mass was statistically similar among vegetation soil types. Roots of cheatgrass grown in cheatgrass-invaded soil had greater Ca and less Mn than roots grown in soil collected from beneath big sagebrush. Relative to initial soil values, cheatgrass-invaded soil lost more mineral N, bicarbonate-P, and soil-solution K+, Ca+2, SO4-2, and Mg+2, than the other vegetation soil types suggesting greater nutrient uptake from that soil. These data support the hypothesis that occupation of a soil by cheatgrass for a length of time increases nutrient availability.