Term of Award

Spring 2013

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)


Department of Biology

Committee Chair

Stephen P. Vives

Committee Member 1

C. Ray Chandler

Committee Member 2

Subhrajit K. Saha

Committee Member 3

Subhrajit K. Saha


Wiregrass (Aristida stricta Michx.) was once the dominant ground cover species within the Atlantic Coastal Plain longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) ecosystem. Less than 1 million hectares of intact longleaf pine-wiregrass communities remain, due primarily to anthropogenic activities. Wiregrass is a keystone species in the longleaf pine ecosystem, as its presence facilitates the natural fire regime, a critical component in the perpetuation of these communities. Therefore, there is increased interest in wiregrass restoration in both existing longleaf pine communities and future longleaf pine restoration sites. Many restoration sites are on tracts that have been cleared of all vegetation. Removal of stumps, roots, and debris causes a high level of disturbance to the upper soil layer. Disturbed soil must first be leveled and compacted before wiregrass seed can be sown effectively. The first objective of this study was to study the effect of wiregrass seed harvest date on germination success. The second objective of this study was to compare two methods of soil compaction, bulldozer versus cultipacker, as measured by wiregrass establishment and vigor. A significant difference in germination rates was found among seed harvested on differing dates relative to seed maturation. Wiregrass seedling density and vigor were similar among compaction treatments and plots. Results of this study arediscussed in the context of updating restoration protocols for wiregrass seed harvest and site preparation.