Unintended Ecological Experiment

In the summer of 2016 my focus was on relaxation, so I preferred not to have fantastic adventures as fellow students had. Instead, I stayed at home doing house chores when I was off work, and one of the big problems I faced was to defend the grass lawn habitat against weedy plant species.  This summer was particularly difficult to fend off the weedy plants, as though they were more aggressive and rapid growing compared to the previous years.  By the time of July, the “invasive” weedy plants have taken almost a quarter of the lawn, and the “native” grass species started to wither and die due to competition in the process.  Clearly something had to be done.

I started applying herbicide about twice in a week to weedy plants as a countermeasure to defend and restore foothold for the grass species. The Reign of invaders were beginning to come to an end, and the invasion rate started to slow down.  Luckily the herbicide was doing its job, and I was able to contain the invasion process.  Now it was time for the restorative measures of the natives.  As most of the weedy plants died out, only a few of the native grass species were surviving within the invasion zone.  The miniature habitat became fragmented. you can observe the difference in the first photo (top left).   One curious observation that I made was that the invaded zone was the only place that did not have a shade, and had the most intense sunlight exposure.  From this I derived a possible explanation that weedy plants are more proficient in utilizing sunlight for photosynthesis, therefore having an upper hand in competition.  Moreover, I suspected that they are also sensitive to light exposure that the presence of a shade could have a negative effect on their growth rate, or it could just be the work of herbicide.

The grass seeds were planted within the fragmented zone, and hopefully the seeds would grow to fill the gaps and return to its original rich grass lawn.  I plan to make another post related to the lawn if I observe any progress.

Andrew S

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