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Effect of Phylogenetic Distance on pH, Nitrates, and Phosphates of Missouri Native Plants
Jonathan Kuse
Division:
Mathematics and Sciences
Department:
Environmental Science and Ecology
Mentor:
Kelli Elliott
Mentor's e-mail:
kelliott@occ.cccd.edu
Author's e-mail:
jckuse@gmail.com
Abstract:

Soil ecology is a vital component of habitat restoration in the field of conservation biology. Historic farming practices and urban development has negatively impacted the reestablishment of native plants as the soil continues to degrade (Harris 2009). This study investigated three different soil compositions (sterilized, old field, and remnant microbial soil) and their effects on Missouri native plants. Soil samples were taken from seventy-six polycultures, plots with more than one plant species, composed of thirty-six plants (twenty-four easy to establish and twelve hard to establish) each with varying relatedness and soil compositions. Each polyculture had three samples taken to test the soil for pH, nitrates, and phosphates. Data was analyzed using linear regression and showed no significance for nitrates or phosphates but there was significance when comparing relatedness and pH, (R2 = 0.16, F1,70 = 13.74, p = <0.001); significance remained even after controlling the outlier and logging the pH. Dried biomass was also recorded and analyzed to see if it supports or refutes these results. None of the distantly related species are in their ideal pH but within ranges that allow survival but not dominance. Previous biomass data on two hard to establish species showed that they grew larger in more distantly related plots, this data may show that pH is one of the abiotic factors allowing for that (Mangan 2018).

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