Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Prairie restoration; Prairie plants--Nutrition; Mycorrhizal fungi; Trace elements in plant nutrition;


Symbiotic relationships between mycorrhizal fungi and land plants are one of the most widespread examples of symbiosis on Earth yet there is still much to discover about their ecological impacts.

Prairie reconstructions are often done on highly disturbed sites such as reclaimed cropland, turf grass, and road rights-of-way. Disturbed soils often lack adequate quantities of both mycorrhizal fungi and micronutrients. I hypothesized that inoculated seeds with mycorrhizal spores or micronutrient seed treatments will aid in the early establishment of a tallgrass prairie.

To test this hypothesis four treatments (T1 control, T2 mycorrhizal, T3 micronutrient, and T4 mycorrhizal and micronutrient) were planted with a seed mixture of 36 native species (8 grasses and 28 forbs). This was a split block experiment with three replicates in each block, and individual plot size was 15 m2. Vegetation was examined using seedling count, basal coverage, above ground biomass, inflorescence count, and mycorrhizal colonization percentage.

There was a significant increase (p=0.006) in total native seedlings in the mycorrhizae plots over the control plots was seen in Year 1. In Year 2 increases of 51.7% (p=0.000), 41.5% (p=0.001), and 45.1% (p=0.000) in total native basal coverage were seen for the mycorrhizae, micronutrient, and combination treatments respectively over the control.

Neither the number of weed seedlings in Year 1 nor the basal coverage of weed species in Year 2 was significantly different among any of the treatments. Basal coverage of weeds was reduced in Year 2 though it was only marginally significant (p=0.102).

In Year 2 there was significantly (p=0.001) higher native biomass in in all treatments versus the control. Weed biomass was not significantly different although overall weed pressure was low and there was a high degree of variability in the data.

Mycorrhizae sampling revealed that there was approximately 42% (p=0.000) increase in mycorrhizal colonization in the treatments that had mycorrhizal inoculant added to the seed mixture than the plots that did not receive inoculant.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Biology


Tallgrass Prairie Center

First Advisor

Daryl Smith, Co-Chair, Thesis Committee

Second Advisor

Mark Myers, Co-Chair, Thesis Committee

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (ix, 140 pages)



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Plant Biology Commons