Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Jennifer M. Koslow

Department Affiliation

Biological Sciences

Second Advisor

David R. Brown

Department Affiliation

Biological Sciences

Third Advisor

Charles L. Elliott

Department Affiliation

Biological Sciences

Abstract

Running buffalo clover (Trifolium stoloniferum) is a federally endangered plant that appears to depend on habitat disturbance, although proposed management strategies such as cattle grazing, mowing, and herbicide application have never been compared in a controlled study. We evaluate the efficacy of these techniques on the Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD) in Madison County, KY, where one of T. stoloniferum’s largest populations occurs. Fifty-nine patches of T. stoloniferum on the BGAD were treated annually between 2012 and 2014 with combinations of mowing and grass-specific herbicide. Patches of T. stoloniferum also were exposed to one of three types of cattle exposure (traditional dispersed grazing, enclosed grazing, and no grazing). Patches that were both mowed and sprayed with herbicide had significantly greater increases in abundance and higher survival rates than those with other treatments. Plants in any treatment group produced significantly longer and more numerous stolons than plants in control groups in the first year. Grazing status had no significant effect on abundance but ungrazed plants had significantly higher survival rates as well as significantly longer and more numerous stolons in the second year than plants in openly grazed areas. Enclosed grazing produced significantly higher increases in flower production. Although the results were sometimes inconsistent between years, they provide evidence in support of a mixed management strategy for T. stoloniferum that incorporates both mowing and grass-specific herbicides. The use of cattle as a management tool may hold potential, but care should be taken to regulate the duration and intensity of grazing because unrestricted grazing was more detrimental than no grazing at all.

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