Date of Graduation

Spring 2008


Master of Science in Plant Science (Biology)



Committee Chair

Alexander Wait


nonnative invasive species, lespedeza cuneata, tallgrass prairie restoration, rertilizer, herbicide, stem density, species cover

Subject Categories

Plant Sciences


Lespedeza cuneata (Sericea lespedeza) is a nonnative invasive legume that competively excludes native grasses and forbs. Unfortunately, typical management protocols that are used to maintain native flora in Missouri old fields and prairies, mowing and fire, enhance L. cuneata growth and seedling establishment. This study examined management strategies for communities in Missouri that have become degraded due to high density stands of L. cuneata. I tested a relatively novel management regime at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield in Springfield, Missouri to control L. cuneata that minimizes the use of herbicides and maximizes the natural competitive interactions of native species. I used an organic fertilizer (4-1-4) to increase soil quality and promote the competitive ability of native grasses and forbs. I applied a newly-developed herbicide (PastureGard, developed by DowAgro) that targets legumes and other woody species. Finally, I used mowing, which is a necessary treatment to control secondary growth in prairie habitats. I found that PastureGard effectively controlled L. cuneata (stem density per m2 was reduced from 89.4 +- 13.9 (mean +- standard deviation) to 0.0 +- 0.0 in treated plots). Fertilization reduced percent cover of L. cuneata cover from 27.2 +- 5.34 to 6.3 +- 4.2. Mowing did not have a significant effect on reducing L. cuneata dominance. Combining fertilization with herbicide did not have the desired effect of increasing species richness. Results suggest that fertilization does have potential for controlling L. cuneata in highly invaded prairies and old-fields if used in conjunction with at least one herbicide application.


© Jack E. Cornell II

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