|This summer golden paintbrush were thriving at a reintroduction site at William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge (photo by Caitlin Lawrence).|
connections between a golden paintbrush |
and host plant can be seen on the roots of these
plants (photo by Katie Jones).
Lawrence using the point-intercept |
method to estimate percent cover
of vegetation in her plots (Photo by Tom Kaye).
|Comparison between carbon addition (left), control (middle) and fertilized (right) plots shows the increase in plant biomass in a plot with increasing levels of soil nutrients (Photos by Caitlin Lawrence).|
What do these results mean for prairie restoration? With just one year of nutrient enrichment in the soils we saw increased abundance of invasive plants compared with native species. This could have implications for the future: if nitrogen deposition from air pollution increases, we can expect invasive plants to become more numerous and competitive. Reducing the nutrients in the soil may be a way to give native plants an advantage over weeds.
With respect to golden paintbrush specifically, high nutrient conditions can increase the number of seedlings that emerge, at least in the short term. In 2014 we’ll be watching for the effect of soil nutrient levels on paintbrush growth and flowering. And as the seedlings of the host plants grow larger, we will be able to see whether the growth of paintbrush is affected by increased plant diversity. Golden paintbrush restoration has made some great progress so far and we hope to continue to learn about and conserve this species for many years to come.