Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Barber, Nicholas A.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Biological Sciences


Parasitic plants; Wild flowers--Illinois; Orobanchaceae; Santalaceae


Pedicularis canadensis (Orobanchaceae) and Comandra umbellata (Santalaceae) are two root hemiparasitic plant species found in tallgrass prairie communities of the Chicago region. Managers are interested in utilizing these species to reduce dominant prairie grasses and thereby increase ecological diversity and quality in prairie restorations and urban plantings. A field observational study at five tallgrass prairie sites investigated the association of hemiparasite abundance with metrics of phylogenetic and ecological diversity as well as floristic quality. Although no reduction in C4 grasses was detected, analysis of the field data found a significant association between hemiparasite abundance with increased floristic quality at all five sites. Hemiparasite abundance and species richness were associated significantly at one restoration site. A mesocosm experiment investigated response to parasitism by P. canadensis in species representing six different functional groups of the tallgrass prairie. The annual legume Chamaecrista fasciculata had the greatest significant dry biomass reduction among six host species compared to unparasitized controls. The C4 grass, Andropogon gerardii, had significantly greater above-ground biomass when grown with the hemiparasite. Overall, host species biomass as a total community was significantly reduced, consistent with other investigations that demonstrate influence on community structure by hemiparasitic plant species.


Advisors: Nicholas A. Barber; Melvin R. Duvall.||Committee members: Richard B. King.||Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


v, 43 pages




Northern Illinois University

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