Ecology of the Festuca Grassland in Central Saskatchewan
Brayshaw, Thomas Christopher
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For some time it has been realized that the grassland occuring in the 'park belt' or 'aspen grove region' bounding the Canadian prairies on the north, and forming the transition between it and the boreal forest, does not consist merely of extensions of the adjacent grassland communities (true prairie or mixed prairie) among the patches of woodland which occur in that region; but is characterized by a different group of dominant grasses from those occuring elsewhere in North America. Although other investigators have mentioned this fact and written about the flora in other parts of the region, their data have been based largely on methods of estimation chiefly of a qualitative nature. In view of this, it was thought that an ecological survey based on quantitative methods might provide a better basis for classifying the vegetation of the area. Accordingly, while being employed as an assistant in the Department of Plant Ecology of the University of Saskatchewan the author was given the opportunity, under the supervision of Dr. R.T. Coupland, to carry out investigations in those parts of the aspen grove region north and northwest of Saskatoon. The author is considerably indebted to Dr. B.W. Currie of the Physics Department, for furnishing data on the climate of the area of research, and to Mr. H.C. Moss and his assistants, of the Saskachewan Soil Survey, who kindly undertook to examine and report on the soil samples which were collected in several of the sites studied. The author also wishes to express his gratitide to Mr. Jack F. Alex and Mr. W. Budz of the Department of Plant Ecology, who assisted greatly in both the field and laboratory work for this project. The financial assistance of the Saskatchewan Agricultural Research Foundation, which made this study possible, is also appreciated. The author experienced a great deal of difficulty as a result of unfamiliarity with the topography, in particular with the vegetation of the plants, since he is more accustomed to the mountains and forests of British Columbia. Many problems of identifications were encountered in dealing with the wealth of species of grasses and composites, as well as problems of relationship between the communities found in certain locations and their topographical situation.