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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Reintroduction of Arundinaria gigantea Canebrakes Through Improved Propagation and Establishment
Year: 2005
Author(s): Cirtain, M. C.
Source Title: Proceedings of the 4th Eastern Native Grass Symposium
Source Type: Proceedings
pages: 167-168
Original Publication:  
Abstract: The Arundinaria gigantea (Walt.) Muhl. canebrake was once a dominant ecosystem throughout the southeastern United States, providing habitat for a number of animal species. There has been a greater than 98% decline in the A. gigantea population resulting in a critically endangered ecosystem. Historical accounts suggest loss of canebrake habitat has resulted in the extirpation (and perhaps extinction) of many animal species. Thus, canebrake restoration is necessary for maintaining and enhancing biodiversity in the southeastern United States. However, transplantation attempts to reintroduce cane have met with limited success. Efficient propagation methods and a greater understanding of environmental factors critical to establishment success could improve necessary restoration efforts. The environmental factors critical to success, and the focus of this research, are competition, light levels, and soil moisture and nutrients with emphasis on establishment and management. The goal of this study is to facilitate reestablishment of A. gigantea canebrakes by comparing propagation methods and examining environmental parameters critical to establishment. There are several characteristics of A. gigantea that make propagation difficult. Since cane flowers infrequently and seed production is inconsistent, a source of seed is unreliable. The more successful transplantations have been with vegetative propagation, using mature culms and rhizomes, thus requiring an abundant source of mature plants. Methods adapted from Platt and Brantley are being used for transplantation, and field studies with transplants are being used to determine conditions necessary for establishment and growth. Additionally, macropropagation methods, used extensively in nursery applications, are being examined for use as source plants for laboratory and field studies. More recently, for large-scale propagation projects, such as the proposed canebrake restoration, micropropagation methods have been developed. Micropropagation requires relatively little plant material to establish, is a continual source of propagules, and is thereby a feasible method for reestablishment of A. gigantea canebrakes. Micropropagation methodology for A. gigantea is currently being developed as a continual supply of propagules for canebrake establishment. The focus for both macro- and micropropagation experiments will be determining concentrations of plant growth regulators, auxins and cytokinins, which will result in the greatest amount of plant growth. Propagation research to date has determined the axillary bud to be a feasible source of micropropagation and macropropagation explant material. Shoot initiation, the first step in the micropropagation method, occurs readily using explants (4 to 6 mm in diameter size range)placed on Murashige and Skoog medium with 3% sucrose, 0.1 μM thidiazuron and 0.1 μM indole-3-butyric acid, 0.6% agar, pH 5.8. Shoot multiplication and root development methodologies are currently under investigation. Macropropagation methods are also being conducted using sand as support medium under misted conditions. Culm segments approximately 42 centimeters in length are treated with auxin and placed in trays containing sand. Propagules from both methods will be acclimatized in the greenhouse for transfer to the field, providing a continual and adequate source for canebrake reintroduction. Once a source of plants for the field has been developed, it will be necessary to have established environmental parameters favorable for survival and continued expansion. Experiments conducted in laboratory conditions have shown river cane produces the greatest growth in full sun in moist, well-drained soil. Field studies indicate reduction of competition results in increased new shoot growth. Research will continue to determine nutrient requirements, as well as additional data on shading effects on existing river cane populations.
Publisher: The University of Kentucky Department of Forestry, Lexington, Kentucky
Editor(s): T. G. Barnes