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Rhodes University (2021)

Effects of elevated temperature, rainfall and soil nutrients on acacia mearnsii invasion

Kharivha, Tshililo

Titre : Effects of elevated temperature, rainfall and soil nutrients on acacia mearnsii invasion

Auteur : Kharivha, Tshililo

Université de soutenance : Rhodes University

Grade : Master of Science in environmental Science 2021

Résumé partiel
Climate change is associated with the risk of plant invasion hence a better understanding of the effects of elevated temperature, precipitation and soil nutrients on dominant invasive plants is needed for effective ecological planning. This study was set out to : (i) examine how elevated temperature (±2°C increase), (ii) high (above local average) and low (below local average) precipitation, (iii) elevated soil nutrient content (increase in soil N), and (iv) a combination of the above manipulations affects germination and growth of Acacia mearnsii, a dominant invasive plant in South Africa. The study further evaluated how the above-mentioned treatments affect soil chemical properties following A. mearnsii germination and growth. The above-mentioned specific objectives were tested under manipulated greenhouse conditions over six experimental months. The results indicated that the above-mentioned climate change scenarios have the potential to facilitate germination and growth of the invasive species A. mearnsii, and this is likely to proliferate its invasion in future. Results showed that seed germination was significantly high under all climate change manipulation treatments (˃50%) with highest seed germination recorded under high rainfall treatment (64%). Plant height was significantly higher under high temperature and high rainfall treatments throughout all the experimental months, though it was lowest under high nitrogen and combined treatment with high rainfall. The numbers of branches were high under higher temperature and low rainfall treatments than under high rainfall, high nitrogen and both combined treatments of low and high rainfall. Relative to the control, plants grown under climate change scenarios increased their root lengths, but this varied across different treatments. Total dry biomass was relatively high under high temperature treatment (0,7 g). Lower plant dry biomass was observed under low and high rainfall treatments (0,4 g), high nitrogen and combined treatments with both low and high rainfall treatments (0,1 g). Concerning the effects of climate change scenarios on soil chemical properties, soil pH levels were significantly higher after A. mearnsii germination and growth than before the experiment was setup. Soil resistivity was significantly higher in climate change treatments receiving nitrogen and combined treatments of low rainfall than other treatments and the soils before experiment.

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Page publiée le 16 mai 2022