I completed original research evaluating new technologies to improve grassland restoration reseeding efforts. This research will be used in the field to help fight against invasive species that are destroying the grassland habitat with minimal costs to stakeholders.
Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) invasion threatens grasslands across the United States, and have implications for the functioning of the plant community and local disturbance regimes. Cheatgrass alters nutrient cycling and increases fire return intervals, fundamentally altering ecosystems with consequences for native species. Cheatgrass is highly competitive and able to germinate early in the growing season, generating a priority effect that aids in out-competition of native species. This study aims to test the effects of priming technology, a methodology abstracted from agricultural sciences, on accelerating germination timing for native species. Seed priming encompasses several variants and works to boost germination timing. Hydropriming, solid matrix priming, and chemopriming were tested on three species of grasses native to Colorado rangelands: E. elymoides, P. secunda, and S. Scoparium. Hydropriming treatments were effective in accelerating germination for P. secunda, while solid matrix priming was most effective in accelerating germination for E. elymoides and S. Scoparium. The effects of dry down duration following prime treatment were also investigated, finding no significant difference in treatment effect as the result of drying duration. The results have implications for reseeding efforts in cheatgrass-invaded ecosystems, allowing native species earlier acquisition of resources and promoting their competitive ability against invasion.