The biogeography of coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara l.) invasion in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland

Hendrickson, Cheryl (1999) The biogeography of coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara l.) invasion in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

The invasion of the Eurasian weed coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara L.) in Gros Morne National Park (GMNP), Newfoundland, was examined to determine which resource changes accompanying disturbance enabled population expansion. Resource levels were measured in 17 disturbance types of natural and anthropogenic origin - notably hiking trails, roads, gravel quarries, shorelines, slopes, hydro corridors and insect kills - and across a gradient from disturbed to undisturbed in 12 vegetation types. Balsam fir forest comprises 36 percent of the park and has the highest number of disturbance types. -- Disturbances favouring coltsfoot were characterized by a pH of 6.8-8.3, high light intensity, increased bare ground, absence of duff cover and moist, gravelly substrates. These resource levels were typical of both natural and anthropogenic disturbances in which the canopy and duff cover were absent, and the pH of acidic native soils had been raised by the addition of quarried limestone or granitic gravel. These represent resource shifts or amplifications relative to undisturbed vegetation types in which coltsfoot was absent. -- The difference in resource levels across the disturbance gradient indicates that coltsfoot is unable to colonize undisturbed native vegetation. Likewise, a change in resource levels over time, which favours other species and is unsuitable for coltsfoot, appears to be the mechanism of coltsfoot’s recession. -- Coltsfoot is subject to grazing by other species, indicating its success in GMNP is not entirely a function of its escape from Old World predators, as is often thought to be the case for other invasives. -- Elevation was not a limiting factor for coltsfoot in GMNP as it was found to be on the Gaspé Peninsula where it does not occur in elevations greater than 150 m asl. Where coltsfoot occurs at high altitudes it is found on all exposures, so that aspect is not a factor in overcoming the climatic changes that accompany increasing elevation. -- Not all disturbance types present resource levels favourable for coltsfoot establishment. However, resource levels associated with some disturbance types of anthropogenic origin indicate that park activities have played an important role in the invasion of coltsfoot in GMNP. Gravel of neutral to basic pH provided a medium for rhizome dispersal during the road and trail construction phase of the park from the late 1970s to mid 1980s. Redistribution of gravel allowed coltsfoot, a calciphile limited by low pH, to obtain exponential population growth over a relatively short period of time. -- Invasion represents a change in resources from historic levels that accompanies certain disturbance types. In chronic (sustained) disturbances associated with roadsides and streams, coltsfoot may persist indefinitely. However, if native vegetation communities are not subjected to disturbances that produce favourable resource levels for coltsfoot, the biodiversity of native vegetation and the fauna that depend upon it, are not threatened.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/1418
Item ID: 1418
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 82-89
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Geography
Date: 1999
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador--Great Northern Peninsula--Gros Morne National Park
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Coltsfoot--Newfoundland and Labrador--Gros Morne National Park; Plant invasions--Newfoundland and Labrador--Gros Morne National Park

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