Iris Charvat, Professor, Plant Biology
In an effort to minimize the environmental impact of road construction, MnDOT is in the process of restoring prairies and wetlands along the road rights-of-way in Cambridge, MN. Favorable below-ground conditions for restoration have not been determined for most inhospitable sites including the JES site near Cambridge, MN. It is likely that symbiotic fungi, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), plays an important role in the restoration process. It has been documented that the presence of AMF can inhibit the germination and growth of weedy non-mycotrophic plant species, increase plant diversity (Grime et al., 1987), and increase the competitive effects of native prairie species (Hartnett et al., 1993). Furthermore, some dominant prairie grasses are obligate mycorrhizal plants. In order to facilitate the establishment of native prairie and wetland plants quickly, it may be necessary to inoculate the area with AMF. In addition, there is little known about the germination and establishment of seeded and non-seeded species at the Cambridge site, JES. Much knowledge concerning future restoration projects can be gained by monitoring the reestablishment process at this site. In an attempt to more fully understand the ecology of restoration, our research proposes to examine these above questions in detail and make recommendations to MnDOT according to the results of the studies.