The Effects of Mowing and Fertilization on Plant Species Diversity
Moore, Kaila Geneva
It is thought that species diversity is maximized when ecological disturbance is present because both weedy species and good competitors can coexist. In addition, nutrient availability maximizes species diversity when it is neither abundant nor poor because plant species will not outgrow one another causing light resources to become limited. To be able to determine the validity of this I examined the effect that mowing, fertilization, and the interaction between both have on plant species diversity at East Carolina University’s West Research Campus. My research was a part of a long-term study that has been running for 17 years. I analyzed species diversity by recording the stem count and percent cover of all species in four different treatments. The treatments included mowed and fertilized, unmowed and fertilized, mowed and unfertilized, and unmowed and unfertilized (control). After calculating all species present within the treatments, I conducted an analysis of variance (ANOVA) to test what effect my independent variables (mowing and fertilization) had on my dependent variable (species richness), which is defined as the number of different species present within a 1 by 1 m quadrat. The results from my ANOVA test revealed that all independent variables had an effect on species diversity. Fertilization alone decreases species diversity, mowing alone increases species diversity the most, and the effect of fertilizer is greater in mowed treatments. This was concluded by comparing the averages of each independent variable to my control. Mowing and fertilization had an average of 12.25 plant species per quadrat, fertilization alone had an average of 7.71, mowing alone had an average of 15.96, and the control (unmowed and unfertilized) had an average of 7.79. These results show that species diversity is indeed maximized when ecological disturbance is applied but decreased when nutrients are overly abundant.
Moore, Kaila Geneva. (May 2021). The Effects of Mowing and Fertilization on Plant Species Diversity (Honors Thesis, East Carolina University). Retrieved from the Scholarship. (http://hdl.handle.net/10342/9190.)
Moore, Kaila Geneva. The Effects of Mowing and Fertilization on Plant Species Diversity. Honors Thesis. East Carolina University, May 2021. The Scholarship. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/9190. August 19, 2022.
Moore, Kaila Geneva, “The Effects of Mowing and Fertilization on Plant Species Diversity” (Honors Thesis., East Carolina University, May 2021).
Moore, Kaila Geneva. The Effects of Mowing and Fertilization on Plant Species Diversity [Honors Thesis]. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University; May 2021.
East Carolina University