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Little Topashaw Creek - Use of willow cuttings for riparian zone rehabilitation
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 Measuring physiological performance of willow cuttings. Measuring physiological performance of willow cuttings.

Willow cuttings (stakes, posts, or poles) are frequently planted to restore riparian zones along degraded stream corridors. Success rates vary widely from site to site, and therefore it is critical to develop methods for site evaluation and enhancement of planting success. Twenty study plots were selected along the Little Topashaw Creek corridor. Ten study plots were established on sandbars and ten on eroding cohesive banks. Sixteen willow posts were planted in each of the 20 plots. Environmental data were collected from each plot, including soil density, soil grain size distribution, soil moisture, depth to water table, pH and Eh.  Survival rates and height growth of the willow cuttings were also recorded. Plant water relations and gas exchange responses measured on selected willows.  In addition, two other aspects of willow cutting propagation were investigated: 

Pre-planting soaking.Previous studies on other woody species suggest the potential benefits of pre-planting soaking in water on survival of planted cuttings. A greenhouse study demonstrated beneficial effects of soaking for black willow cuttings. Soaking posts for 10 days under optimal soil moisture conditions significantly enhanced root and shoot growth as well as survival. To confirm the greenhouse results, the performance of soaked and unsoaked willow cuttings at the Topashaw Creek site were compared. In each of the aforementioned 20 study plots, 8 soaked cuttings and 8 unsoaked cuttings were planted in a checkerboard pattern. Soaked cuttings were placed in water for 14 to 21 days prior to planting.

Herbivory.Beaver (Castor canadensis) often graze willow cuttings and coppice natural willow saplings. Data on herbivory effects on willow success were collected at LTC.