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RenR Seminar: Restoring native grassland function in urban environment

S. Arezoo Amini, MSc Candidate (Supervisor Dr Derek Mackenzie), Renewable Resources,
will present a seminar, "Restoring native grassland function in urban environment;
Implications for soil-plant relations," as part of the requirements for the Renewable
Resources 604 course.

Abstract: The area of Fescue prairie has been reduced in Western Canada, because of
human activities including housing development and land clearing. Urban development
can impact natural ecosystems by eliminating native species and their habitat. Strategic
restoration efforts may reduce the effects of urban expansion on native ecosystem by
re-establishing modified habitat. Larch Park is an Edmonton residential development
area to which land reclamation and restoration ecology have been applied in order to
rebuild natural grasslands instead of turf grasses. By rebuilding soils and planting native
communities in Larch Park we expect ecosystem function and wildlife habitat to be more
similar to natural grasslands and require less maintenance such as watering, fertilization
and weed control. Also, biochar amendment is used as a fire surrogate to stimulate
reclamation success. Larch Park is compared to a natural grassland (U of A Kinsella
Ranch) to have a measurement of reclamation success. The level of similarity of the
reclaimed site to a native grassland, in terms of ecosystem functions and services, will
determine the reclamation success.

In this project we are examining ecosystem function in reclaimed site (Larch Park) and
natural grassland (Kinsella) by measuring microbial community structure with phospholipid
fatty acid (PLFA) analysis, nutrient availability by using resin capsules, soil microbial
biomass C and N by chloroform fumigation-extraction method, and microbial respiration
by alkali trap method. In Larch Park, disturbance followed by land reclamation causes
drastic changes in soil processes. Preliminary results showed higher nutrient availability
and lower microbial biomass in reclaimed site compared to natural area.

Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:30pm – 1:30pm Mountain Time - Edmonton
236 Earth Sciences Building, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta (map)