Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science


Environment and Sustainability


Dr. Hugh Henry


Continued intensification of agriculture and combustion of fossil fuels will increase rates of atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition over the next century. N is typically a limiting resource for terrestrial plants, and many species are adapted to low-N conditions. Increased N availability can affect both plant biomass and species composition, often favouring N-demanding, adventive species. These effects can be adverse in the context of ecological restoration, where the end product often relies on establishing a particular community composition. I used a field experiment in Norfolk County, Ontario, to examine how N addition affects species composition and plant productivity of a tallgrass prairie restoration. I predicted that N addition would increase the abundance of plant species not included in the original seeding. Contrary to my prediction, relative abundance of native, rather than adventive species, increased with N addition, although the latter species were scarce at the site, possibly as a result of dispersal limitation. I conclude that increased N availability can enhance the growth of tallgrass prairie species in the first few years of restoration.

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