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Developing Native Multispecies Sod: An Alternative Rehabilitation Method for Disturbed Lands


L. J. Rew, email


Natural and anthropogenic disturbance provides a mechanism for resetting the species assemblage within natural communities. Following anthropogenic disturbance particularly, there are generally more weedy species. Restoration of ecosystem structure and function in disturbed areas could aid in the control of these undesirable species. Attempts to re-establish vegetation via direct sowing, hydroseeding, drill seeding, imprinting or plugging of either native or non-native species can be effective, but can result in increased erosion and weed proliferation prior to desirable cover of the intended species. The use of native species for rehabilitation can be preferable because non-native species are often less suited to the local environment and can pose a threat to the integrity of adjacent ecosystems. Native multispecies sod could become a useful rehabilitation tool, but research is needed to determine which species to use and the appropriate number of species to include. Mixtures of 4–7 native species were grown for 7 months, and clipped dry biomass, species percent abundance, and total ground cover were assessed over time in order to determine the suitability of 20 native species for sod production. Despite differences between mixtures at some harvests, all mixtures established and produced similar biomass by the end of the study. Final percent cover varied widely among species; 16 of the 20 species increased significantly over the course of production. Differences in total ground cover between mixtures were explained by the growth of the particular species rather than any synergistic effect of species diversity.

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