Date of Award

6-2016

Degree Name

MS in Biological Sciences

Department

Biological Sciences

Advisor

Jenn Yost

Abstract

It is widely accepted that allelopathy is not only significant, but more or less singular, in the inhibition of understory vegetation in California Eucalyptus globulus (blue gum) plantations. However, there is no published documentation of allelopathy by blue gums against California native species. Here, we present evidence that germination and early seedling growth of five California native species are not inhibited by chemical extracts of blue gum foliage, either at naturally-occurring or artificially concentrated levels. In the greenhouse, seeds were germinated in field-collected soil from mature blue gum plantations and the adjacent native, coastal scrub communities. In petri plates, seeds of native species were germinated in the presence of concentrated volatile and water-soluble compounds from fresh foliage of blue gum, coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) as a negative control, or white sage (Salvia apiana) as a positive control, or in a water control. In the greenhouse, blue gum soil supported germination and early seedling growth of native species equal to or better than coastal scrub soil. In the lab, germination of native species was not inhibited when grown in the presence of volatile compounds from blue gum foliage, compared to the native control (coast live oak) or the neutral water control. Germination of three out of five native species tested was not inhibited in the presence of water-soluble compounds from blue gum foliage, compared to coast live oak or the water control. Our results contradict the long-standing paradigm that blue gums are toxic to California natives, which may have significant implications for management and restoration of land historically occupied by blue gum plantations.