Quercus alba and Acer rubrum seedling germination in the presence of Microstegium vimineum.

 

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Dylan Roberts
Committee: Alisa Hove, Robert Hastings, Natasha Shipman

Microstegium vimineum, or Japanese stiltgrass, is a small invasive grass that has a firm hold in many states in eastern United States. Microstegium vimineum is a C4 grass that thrives in recently disturbed drainage areas and is very adaptable to many environmental conditions (Oswalt et al., 2004). Along with a wide range of shade tolerance, the grass possesses allelopathic chemicals (Pisula, et al. 2010). This study investigated whether Microstegium vimineum affects the germination of one large seeded tree species, White oak (Quercus alba), as well as small seeded tree, Red maple (Acer rubrum). Microstegium vimineum seedlings were given two weeks to colonize the treatment pots and reach up to several inches of total growth. Three Acer rubrum seeds were planted for each one White oak acorn, totaling to 36 Acer rubrum seeds total, to 12 Quercus alba seeds. Quercus alba control and Microstegium vimineum treatments resulted in the same number of germination success: 3 seeds successfully germinated in each. Acer rubrum germination success resulted in: 8 successful germinations in the control treatment, and 4 successful germinations in the Microstegium vimineum treatment. The results from each treatment do not reveal significant data supporting the negative effect that Microstegium vimineum has on the germination of either Quercus alba or Acer rubrum. Patterns are visible in both germination success and the mean number of days to germination. Results show similarities to those found in the study conducted by Flory, et al. 2010. Without the support of sufficient data, we can not come to the conclusion that their is a direct correlation between the effects of Microstegium vimineum and the germination success of Acer rubrum. The Quercus alba seed germination success was seemingly unaffected by the presence of Microstegium vimineum, but certain outside factors could have contributed to the lack of Quercus alba germination success.