ORCA General Poster Session

Title

Does distance from trees affect two bunchgrasses (Schizachyrium scoparium and S. tenerum) in Longleaf pine savanna?

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Sophomore

Major

Biology

Minor

Applied Statistics

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Paul Gagnon, PhD

Presentation Format

Poster Presentation

Abstract/Description

The longleaf pine ecosystem requires regular burning to maintain both its characteristically high understory diversity and the success of longleaf pine trees against pine and oak competitors. A 2012 study of two native bunchgrasses of the longleaf pine ecosystem suggested that slender bluestem (Schizachyrium tenerum) survived better in higher-fuel areas (such as under the pine trees) when compared to little bluestem (S. scoparium; Gagnon et al. 2012). Our experiment sought to confirm this finding by evaluating whether the ratio of slender bluestem to little bluestem was higher in areas of heavier fuel-loads beneath trees than in clearings away from trees, where pine fuels should be reduced. We collected data on the frequency and area covered by tussocks of the two species in the longleaf pine ecosystem at Camp Whispering Pines in southeastern Louisiana. We found that tussocks of little bluestem were more frequent (P = 0.003) and covered more area (P = 0.005) than tussocks of slender bluestem. However, we found no significant difference in the ratio of the two focal bunchgrasses relative to their distance from pine trees (P = 0.234). Our finding suggests that the previously reported significant difference in the ratio of the two species might have resulted from chance or from some unforeseen bias in sampling design. This study has contributed to our understanding of community dynamics in this ecologically complex, floristically diverse ecosystem.

Spring Scholars Week 2018 Event

General Poster Session

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Does distance from trees affect two bunchgrasses (Schizachyrium scoparium and S. tenerum) in Longleaf pine savanna?

The longleaf pine ecosystem requires regular burning to maintain both its characteristically high understory diversity and the success of longleaf pine trees against pine and oak competitors. A 2012 study of two native bunchgrasses of the longleaf pine ecosystem suggested that slender bluestem (Schizachyrium tenerum) survived better in higher-fuel areas (such as under the pine trees) when compared to little bluestem (S. scoparium; Gagnon et al. 2012). Our experiment sought to confirm this finding by evaluating whether the ratio of slender bluestem to little bluestem was higher in areas of heavier fuel-loads beneath trees than in clearings away from trees, where pine fuels should be reduced. We collected data on the frequency and area covered by tussocks of the two species in the longleaf pine ecosystem at Camp Whispering Pines in southeastern Louisiana. We found that tussocks of little bluestem were more frequent (P = 0.003) and covered more area (P = 0.005) than tussocks of slender bluestem. However, we found no significant difference in the ratio of the two focal bunchgrasses relative to their distance from pine trees (P = 0.234). Our finding suggests that the previously reported significant difference in the ratio of the two species might have resulted from chance or from some unforeseen bias in sampling design. This study has contributed to our understanding of community dynamics in this ecologically complex, floristically diverse ecosystem.