BSF Program Peer Review Sheet

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Cover Sheet For Proposals To The Biology Science Foundation Program Announcement/Closing Date Global and Regional Environmental Change BSF-19-1 / Feb. 1, 2019 Title of Proposed Project: For Consideration by BSF Organization Unit Ecology and Evolution Program The dynamic effects of altered temperatures and limestone concentrations in soil near roadways on Panicum virgatum; for use in erosion control. Requested Starting Date 2/25/19 Proposed Duration 5 Weeks Investigators Signature 1. Abdulrahman Almassrahy 2. Peyton Collias 3. Jeremy Cutlip 4. Joshua Libell Biology 321, Laboratory Section: C10 Teaching Assistant: Christopher Burney Triad No: 1 Date to Resubmit Authorization Date Approved Authorization Table of Contents: I. Project Summary……………………………………………………………………………… .3 II. Project Description……………………………………………………………………….…3-15 A. Introduction………………………………………………………………….……....….3-5 B. Background…………………………………………………………………...……..….5-8 1. P. virgatum………………………………….…….…………..5 2. Soil Temperature………………………………….…….…….6 3. Road Runoff………………………………….…….…………7 C. Objectives, Hypotheses, or Questions………………………………………………..8-10 D. Research Plan……………………………………………………………….………..10-13 1. Experimental design……………….……………………...10 2. Methods…………………………….……………………..10 3. Safety precautions……….………………………………..11 4. Statistical analysis……….………………………………..12 5. Research schedule………………………………………...13 E. Expected Significance………………………………………………………………..13-14 F. Literature Cited…………………………………………………………….………....14-17 III. Biographical Sketches………………………………………………………………....…17-18 IV. Budget.……………………………………………………………….….........……...….18-21 1. Budget Explanation…………………………..……......…20 2. Equipment and Supplies…………………….……………20 3. Computing Services………………………………...……20 4. Facilities………………………………………...……......20 5. Special Equipment……………………………..…...……21 2 I. Project Summary In the world we live in today, we are constantly expanding our road systems as a means for more efficient transportation. But how does the construction of roadways impact surrounding vegetation, which could threaten the likeliness of desertification from accelerated erosion of surrounding soils? Our proposed study will attempt to investigate the growth of Panicum virgatum in conditions that mimic the environment near roadways in hopes of finding additional methods to prevent erosion. P. virgatum will be grown with the use of a heating mat, and once germinated, placed in soil temperatures of 21.2 °C and 60 °C as well as being exposed to normal rain water (pure water) and road water runoff. The effect on root length, root biomass, blade width/length, and overall biomass will be measured. The resulting association will help determine if P. virgatum is capable of thriving in the adverse conditions set forth by the construction of roadways and whether it would be an effective candidate for erosion control. II. Project Description A. Introduction Soil erosion may perhaps be one of the most dynamic and crucial ecological concerns worldwide. The effects of soil erosion have significantly impacted areas throughout the United States, and have even altered nearly 37% of the land in China (JinRen and XiuXia, 2008). Unfortunately, industrialization and ecological development over the past century has become a dominant contributor to soil erosion. In particular, the construction of roadways can impact the surface hydrology by altering the natural water runoff processes (Bakker et al., 2008). Though necessary for modern civilization, the disruption of the environment caused by road construction is directly and indirectly correlated to soil erosion (Mohammadkhan, 2011). While most 3 hydrologists and environmental scientists are well aware of the consequences from the irregular displacement of water from road construction, soil erosion continues to be an issue that needs addressed. In order to successfully combat soil erosion that is associated with the construction of roadways, it is important to recognize how such manipulation can affect the surrounding environment. The materials used to build roads can directly alter the soil properties and essentially, the surrounding natural wildlife (Johnston and Johnston, 2004). As rainwater leaches through the limestone-rich base layer, the molecular characteristics act as a base; buffering acidic soils yielding a neutral to alkaline soil composition (Jones and Mallarino, 2018). Another important variable to recognize is the heat capacity and absorption capabilities of the asphalt surfaces. Asphalt surfaces absorb heat energy from the sun, which can continue to emit heat after sunset (Angelo, 2008). As the heat energy is released, surrounding soil temperatures and essentially vegetation could potentially be impacted. Since vegetation offers tremendous protection against soil erosion, it is therefore critical to identify a plant that is resilient or is even able to benefit from the dynamic effects of roadway construction. Although engineers have been able to moderately manage hydrology disturbances created from economic development, they have yet to eradicate the ongoing issue of soil erosion. A recent study has identified how vegetation can prevent soil erosion and what physical properties enable vegetation to do so (Farhadi, 2018). An additional study has observed a variety of different plant species and determined which organisms offer the greatest protectional properties against soil erosion (Ichizen, 2005). The latter of the two concluded that P. virgatum (commonly known as switchgrass), has mechanical or physical properties that were successful for preventing soil erosion in elevated areas throughout China. P. virgatum is well known for its resiliency and 4 is able to thrive in soils of varying soil pH (Lui et al, 2014). From this, it is within interest to observe whether P. virgatum will flourish near roadways, which have experienced the interactive and dynamic effects from roadway construction. The intent of this research is to expand preventative soil erosion techniques, while determining: (A) Whether P. virgatum flourishes near roadways where soil composition has been altered from increased limestone concentrations and soil temperature as a result of roadway construction; (B) Will the altered soil composition from roadway construction provide an increased growth opportunity for P. virgatum compared to soils lacking the dynamic effects of roadway construction; (C) Does the interactive effect of increased soil temperatures and limestone concentrations from roadway construction have any influence (negative or positive) on the growth of P. virgatum? B. Background 1. P. virgatum P. virgatum (Switchgrass) is a warm season, C4 perennial plant (Hope and McElroy 1990; Mazarei et al. 2011). Commercially, switchgrass is grown on a large scale and can be used as a biofuel as it doesn’t require much work once it has grown (Parrish and Fike, 2007). P. virgatum can also be used in habitat formation, as the grass offers areas and supplies for birds and other wildlife to live (Hartman et al. 2011). The plant is mainly a tall grass with deep roots, and at the tip of P. virgatum is a fuzzy, hair like substance, branching off of the main stalk of the plant. P. virgatum is a resilient grass, as it is capable of growing in soils of varying pH all the way up to 10.7 (Lui et al, 2014). P. virgatum will germinate after it is exposed in a cold environment and then in a warm moist environment, but stratification will also work. After stratification, the plants grow best in warmer moist soil. P. virgatum can germinate in lower 5 temperatures, but increased temperatures lower the number of days required for germination (Duclos et al. 2014). The grass can grow up to 5 feet tall, and contains a deep and intricate root system (Weaver and Zink, 1946). Roots and shoots of plants have the ability to slow the runoff of water into surrounding soil and also slow erosion considerably (Zhou and Shangguan, 2007), and the dense root system of P. virgatum is able to dig down into the soil which slows down erosion further (Lee et al, 2003). The roots of P. virgatum contain most of its biomass, up to eighty percent (Wood and Bransby, 2000). It has already been used in China to effectively lower the rate of soil erosion (Ichizen et al, 2005). Research on the effect of soil erosion from roads and P. virgatum is scarce. However, P. virgatum has been found to commonly inhabit the areas beside roads in West Virginia (Rentch et al, 2013). 1. Soil Temperature Roads have a low albedo, which means that they absorb more solar radiation, increasing the surrounding atmospheric temperature and surface temperature (Kondo et al, 2013). Current studies are already underway to try and prevent the absorption of solar rays, such as changing the surface material and color (Synnefa et al, 2011). However, this increase of temperature can change the living conditions for plants and wildlife in the surrounding area, altering their growth patterns. With germination alone, P. virgatum sprout faster with warmer temperatures, rather than cold temperatures (Duclos et al. 2014). While P. virgatum germinates better in these conditions, other wildlife may not. The normal average surface temperature in West Virginia is 21.2 °C in the summer months (Law and Mogil, 2011), which would be the conditions wildlife would grow naturally. While the ambient temperature is 21.2 °C, road surfaces can get up to 60 6 °C (Synnefa et al, 2011). No studies have been performed that grow P. virgatum at such an increased temperature before, so testing if they do grow properly at such an increase can determine whether or not it would be a good roadside erosion fighter. This drastic change in surface temperature can have effects on surrounding flora of the area, possibly making the soil uninhabitable. Roads also hold onto that heat longer than soil, emitting radiation even after sunset (Angelo, 2008), which differs than the natural soil patterns. P. virgatum already grows next to roads frequently, so it is possible that it would be able to survive the heat increase caused by the roads. 2. Road Runoff Initially, rainwater is rather pure and only is polluted by the air it travels through; once it travels through many surfaces, it picks up more pollutants each time (Llopart-Mascaró et al, 2010). Many particles such as metals and nutrients are present on the road coming from cars and asphalt, and these particles are liable to be washed off from rain (Hilliges et al. 2013). These particles can sometimes be washed off of roadways and poured onto soil or into surrounding bodies of water, where it can leech down through the surface (Perdikaki and Mason, 1999). There are many potential impacts of this runoff of water, including erosion, soil altercation, and altered routes of water paths. Road runoff into streams and soil has already been shown to reduce the plant diversity of areas beside roadways, and can affect the soil properties (Perdikaki and Mason 1999; Johnston and Johnston 2004). While the tops of roads are conventionally asphalt, the base layer of roads is made up of limestone, which can raise the pH of soil to make it more alkaline (Jones and Mallarino, 2018). Zinc, cadmium, and lead are in higher concentrations in a river downstream of a road runoff site than upstream, but it could be due to a variety of factors 7 (Perdikaki and Mason 1999). These metals and other pollutants can be detrimental to the growth of plants in the area if the concentrations are high enough (Rice et al. 2002). There is a large amount of pollution particles that are present in roadway runoff, so it would be impossible to isolate one factor to determine if there was an effect. There isn’t a set amount of pollutant in any amount of water as it depends on what surfaces the water comes in contact with, and the air quality of the area (Hilliges et al. 2013). Road water runoff is a causation of soil erosion in many areas of the world (Xu et al. 2009). Erosion directly affects surrounding vegetation, and can wreak havoc to water courses due to large amounts of washed out sedimentation (McHugh, 1999). Since it is such a posing threat to the environment, a solution should be obtained. P. virgatum has already been shown to help with erosion in China (Ichizen et al, 2005), so it may be a possible solution here. It has been shown to live along roadsides in West Virginia, and it can survive in varying pH levels and heat conditions with a deep and complex root system, therefore it is likely a good candidate to prevent soil erosion besides roads (Duclos et al. 2014; Lui et al. 2014; Rentch et al, 2013; Weaver and Zink, 1946). C. Objectives, Hypotheses, or Questions Question 1. Will P. virgatum flourish near roadways where soil composition has been altered by water runoff and soil temperature as a result of roadway construction? By mimicking the soil condition near roadways, it would allow us to observe and measure the growth of P. virgatum under such conditions. It was found that P. virgatum can tolerate growing in harsher environments with altered pH’s (Lui et al. 2014). Also, P. virgatum is commonly found near roadways which indicates the probability of being adapted to growing in 8 higher soil temperature (Rentch et al. 2013). We presume that P. virgatum will grow in a soil with increased temperature or added runoff water. Question 2. Will the altered soil composition from roadway construction provide an increased growth opportunity for P. virgatum compared to soils lacking the dynamic effects of roadway construction? Comparing the growth of P. virgatum in the two different soil conditions would tell us whether it benefits from the growth near roadways. Knowing such information could be useful in determining whether to grow more P. virgatum near roadways to prevent erosion, as their deep root systems can hold onto the soil (Lee et al. 2003). Therefore, it is hypothesized that P. virgatum will experience an increased growth in the altered soil composition due to its high tolerance (Barney et al., 2009). Question 3. Does the interactive effect of increased soil temperatures and water runoff from roadways have any influence (negative or positive) on the growth of P. virgatum? Research has been done to support the fact that P. virgatum can tolerate various environmental conditions. To the best of our knowledge; however, there has not been a study done testing the interactive effect of increased soil temperature and limestone concentration on the growth of P. virgatum. Road construction contributes to the increase in soil temperature and water runoff; yet, P. virgatum grows on the side of roads (Rentch et al, 2013). Therefore, it is hypothesized that P. virgatum will show an increased growth despite the increase in soil temperature and water runoff. 9 D. Research Plan 1. Experimental Design The two variables that will be studied are soil temperature, and particle runoff. The two levels of soil temperature will be 21.2 °C to simulate normal temperatures in West Virginia, and since roads can raise the surface temperature up to 60 °C, that will be the other level (Synnefa et al, 2011). The two levels of particle runoff will be regular hose water to simulate normal rainwater from the sky or surrounding areas, and then water filtered through asphalt rocks (containing limestone) to simulate the particles gathered off the roads. There is no way to simulate the exact number of particles that come off of roads, as they vary depending on rain amount, road quality, and traffic. Therefore, the amount of asphalt used to filter will be the same each time to keep it constant. The water quality and soil temperature will take into effect after germination and pot transfer occurs. 2. Methods P. virgatum seeds will be obtained from the greenhouse fridge in the Life Sciences Building at West Virginia University. Since the seeds were in the refrigerator, they have already been stratified and are ready for germination. Four seeds will be planted into each slot within a growing tray containing promix soil, and the soil will be heated to 70°F and kept moist. There will be 60 slots filled in total. A glass dome will be kept over top of the growing trays and water will be sprayed inside the dome. The seeds should germinate within 5-7 days, and once germinated they will be transferred to 4x4x5 inch plastic pots, divided into 4 groups of 10 pots, and treatment will begin. 10 At the start of treatment, two groups will be grown at a soil temperature of 21.2 °C, and the other two at 60 °C. Then two groups, one at each temperature will be exposed to the runoff water washed through asphalt. The temperature will be maintained throughout the duration of the experiment, and the amount of normal water will be equal for all groups. The amount of runoff particle water given to each of the test group pots will be 63.22 ml every two days, as the average rainfall in West Virginia is 111.76 cm a year so that would be 63.22 ml of runoff water per pot size (Law and Mogil, 2011). There is no exact amount of runoff water that would be consistent throughout the world; however, using the average rainfall of West Virginia could simulate the potential amount of water runoff the plants would receive. After treatment and allocated time, root length, root biomass, blade width/length, and overall biomass will be obtained to determine if the conditions had an effect on growth. 3. Safety Precautions • Limestone (Calcium Carbonate): May cause mild skin or eye irritation; however, the severity depends on the amount of exposure, added impurities, and/or ventilation. • Electric Heat Mat: The heat mats provided will be set at approximately 60 °C and therefore should be handled with caution to prevent skin irritation or serious burns. Exposure to other vegetation should also be avoided to ensure no disruptions occur to other research projects. • Water that will be exposed to the asphalt (containing limestone) may cause skin or eye irritation and should be handled with caution. The contaminated water may also disrupt surrounding vegetation and thus splashing should be avoided. 11 4. Statistical Analysis To find out if soil temperature and runoff water have an effect on the growth of P. virgatum, a 2-way ANOVA experiment will be done, using Microsoft Excel, and possibly SAS JMP. This will determine if there is an interactive effect between the two variables. We will use a<0.05 for this test to determine if the soil temperature or runoff water had a significant effect on root biomass, root length, blade width/length, and overall biomass (Figure 1). Asphalt Water Runoff Temperature (ºC) Abcent 63.22ml 21.2 n=10 n=10 60 n=10 n=10 Figure 1. 2 x 2 Statistical design of groups in each temperature and runoff conditions. There are 15 pots of P. virgatum in each variation of levels. These are the temperatures and differences in water that will be used in the experi ...
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