Available at: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/theses/157
Date of Award
MS in Biological Sciences
This study is based at Rocky Canyon Quarry (RCQ), a 200-acre granite aggregate open-pit quarry with chaparral-dominated plant communities located in San Luis Obispo County, CA. At RCQ, the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA) of 1975 was interpreted as restoring the landscape to native plant communities. Native plant community restoration projects have occurred there since 1993 through cooperation with California Polytechnic State University Biology Department in San Luis Obispo, CA. I evaluated past restoration at RCQ and researched new techniques to improve chaparral restoration based on the natural processes of fire.
Chaparral is an important fire-dominated plant community within the California Floristic Province, which covers about seven percent of California. Typically during a fire, heat immediately acts on Adenostoma fasciculatum (Chamise) seeds/m2 in the soil seed bank. Smoke also reaches seeds on and near the soil surface. Chemical effects of fire, such as smoke and charcoal, are deposited on the soil surface and leach into the seed bank after fall rains. In nature, this results in enhanced germination of the seeds and the beginning of chaparral post-fire succession. Fire effects, both heat and chemical, have been supported to increase seed germination in numerous laboratory and field studies. I sought to utilize natural fire cues, such as heat, charate, and liquid smoke, to develop successful and efficient restoration prescriptions. The most successful restoration technique developed utilized Wright’s Liquid Smoke and heat to increase seed germination of Adenostoma fasciculatum (Chamise), Ceanothus cuneatus (California lilac), and Salvia mellifera (Black Sage) significantly. A new restoration prescription for RCQ based on literature reviews and the above mentioned research is presented.