Running Buffalo Clover - Trifolium Stoloniferum - Federally Endangered Species

This Blog will reflect my ongoing research to validate my theories in regards to the Running Buffalo Clover, RBC , and what I believe was it's true prehistoric preferential habitat of mostly open canopy Riparian habitats adjacent to rivers and streams or occurring on nearby floodplains and terraces. ,and that habitats relationship to means of distribution of seed, methods of seed scarification and germination as well as information regarding optimal conditions conducive to subsequent colonial expansion. As well as natural and man-made impacts and their contribution to its current status. An accurate understanding of all the parameters with regards to the species is fundamental to guiding procedures in our attempts to save it from extinction.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My theory on RBC Part 1: Habitat,Distribution and Scarification pre-Buffalo


Current policies and teachings consistently refer to the Bison as the "original mechanism for the distribution and proliferation.." of RBC. Part of this statement is correct in sofar as the Bison were a catlyst for further expansion of RBC beyond its historical habitats from circa 1600 until the extirpation of the Bison in this area circa the late 1790's. Yet misleading, as they were far from "the original" method. Archaeological excavations in ancient indian mound site areas proves the Bison where not here in any great numbers if at all before circa 1600. And when I say here, I mean east of the Mississippi river prior to 1600.
My theory is that the historical pre-buffalo habitat was mostly open canopy Riparian habitat. Riparian habitats are those adjacent to rivers and streams or occurring on nearby
floodplains and terraces. Riparian habitats are shaped and maintained through seasonal flooding, scour, and soil deposition.Floods replenish nutrients, recharge groundwater, and reset successional processes. Riparian habitats occur along rivers and streams at all
elevations, from valley bottom floodplains to alpine torrents. Riparian
habitats also include springs, seeps, and intermittent streams, and many
low elevation alluvial floodplains confined by valleys and inlet.

Now , beyond this , or more importantly those Riparian habitats must occur on landscape geographies of the Ordovician Period. That is to say, where the sedimentary strata of this period is exposed via fissures or strata shifts or removal of the above strata via glaciation.

Much of the areas of the states in which the bulk of the historical and current RBC colonies are mapped have various time period Limestone exposed. Limestones being alkali are key, however the key factor of the Ordivician period is the fact that during that time Volcanic activity during the creation of the Appalachian Mountains to the East periodically deposited volcanic ash and minerals thruout this layer. And thusly lime sediments where dominant.Specifically of interest is the clay ash composite Bentonite and specifically Potassium Bentonite .Potassium is an extremely active alkali metal, which reacts violently with oxygen and water vapor in air to form potassium peroxide and potassium hydroxide.The Potassium of K-bentonite been changed via the alteration process involving sea water.Potassium bentonite is aso known as potash bentonite or K-bentonite, potassium bentonite is a potassium-rich illitic clay formed from alteration of volcanic ash. The surface water or spring water access to K-bentonite levels of the era strata needs to be researched further as well as other minerals , bentonites and limestones of the Ordivician to determine the exact chemical composition and it apparent connection to RBC.

If we take the geographical maps of the states of Ohio,Kentucky, West Virginia and Missouri and overlay the historic and current RBC colony data we find a nearly (as best as one could expect post buffalo) perfect match for the bulk of the colony distributions directly ON or near Ordivician strata surface exposures coupled with the river ,stream and drainage maps of the same states showing Ordivician strata bisected by waterways within the colony ranges.

Click on the picture to enlarge the view. The bulk of Ohio colonies exist along the western portion of the river the greatest concentration being in the sw corner exactly on the exposed Ordivician strata and bisected by the Great and Little Miami rivers, and likewise for each state. The correlation is unmistakable.
What is so key about the Ordivician versus other periods is the Potassium Bentonite clays and /or the fact it was associated with volcanic activity. Conversations with the University of Cincinnati's geological dept. have revealed a need to pursue this eras mineral composition connection further. Many references have been made, including within the USFW reports to high ph soil readings and higher levels of potassium within colony sites. It has been proven by research of the rapid scarification of RBC seed by a base or alkali acid such as KOH potassium hydroxide. It has also been established that the greatest number of RBC colonies occur in near proximity to water courses,small or large. It is known that moving water can erode soils, expose underlying strata and react with it, as well as carry both seeds and nutrients to be deposited in favorable habitats. In short , all aspects of prehistoric means of transport,scarification and sustainment have been met via this theory, for thousands of years prior to the bison anomaly of 1600 which lasted only 200 years.

The major impact of the short lived era of the Buffalo on RBC was their distribution and scarification of the seed coupled with their grazing of compeditive plants and disturbance of soil as they migrated. These actions mimic to great effectiveness the historic or pre-buffalo natural propagation methods of water, rain or stream , coming into contact with exposed Limestones and Ordivician potassium bentonite deposits. So prior to circa 1600 we had only natural methods as described for thousands of years. And for 200 years until circa 1800 we had both methods. Resulting in RBC distribution over a much wider range such as Mesic Forest, Meadows and soforth.
Once this distribution anomaly had occured it was then possible for RBC, with its seedbank having been Buffalo distributed thruout various habitats to "Pop" in non historic sites. For example along a mesic forest trail with sufficient light. These non native habitats also lye (a pun..lie) on Ordivician strata, so seed on a trail in a rain puddle of high PH could generate an occurance.
Obviously the Buffalo carried RBC seed beyond its natural range to areas lacking the proper exposed strata and data evidence reflects RBC struggles in those areas  showing a rate of extirpation nearly double that of colonies in Riparian habitats.
The image below is of an exposed Ordivician period cliff near my home in SW Ohio.

For the purpose of understanding the alkalinity and therefore ability of  Bentonite clay in a solution of neutral water to scarify RBC seed. (which the stomach acid of Bison mimic) I took some samples from the exposed site and made this short Utube video. The reaction is Bentonite clay runoff evaporates, a Base material apparently more alkali than limestone reacting with a weak acid in this case Vinegar.

if the link does not appear you can also open another browser window and cop and paste this link

I cannot rule out or should I say may also include Alkali feldspars. Where K or potassium dominates .The alkali feldspars are as follows:
orthoclase (monoclinic),[6] — KAlSi3O8
sanidine (monoclinic)[7] —(K,Na)AlSi3O8
microcline (triclinic)[8] — KAlSi3O8
anorthoclase (triclinic) — (Na,K)AlSi3O8
Barium feldsparsThe barium feldspars are monoclinic and comprise the following:
celsian — BaAl2Si2O8
hyalophane — (K,Na,Ba)(Al,Si)4O8
Feldspars can form clay minerals through chemical weathering.
The alkalis in feldspar (calcium oxide, potassium oxide, and sodium oxide)

Under the correct set of circumstances we can have rain or stream waters come in contact with theses alkali materials, the base or high PH strength would be related to the duration of contact as well as the composition of the material contacted. Even a slightly base water supply could become more potent via the process of natural evaporation such as in pooling or puddling, thereby scarifing any RBC seed encountered or transported. Obviously due to the infrequencies of these events coming together in the right combinations and adding the fact that RBC seed is not overly abundant are some of the limiting factors to RBC being found more often.As well as the fact that in modern times as we now have, many invasive species occupy the prime areas needed for RBC to germinate and propagate.

Again the following is cited as direct supporting evidence of Potassium Bentonite scarificarion or Potassium laden mineral clays from weathered feldspars and possibly certain  Limestones,Shales or conglomerates preferably of high potassium content>
"High variability was noted in the soil characteristics among sites. The lowest fertility levels were found at one of the West Virginia sites, whereas the highest levels were found at a severely disturbed site in Ohio. Some soils sampled from the running buffalo clover rooting zones had higher pH, cation exchange capacity, Bray and total phosphorus, and potassium than soils sampled more than two meters away from the plants. Potassium was significantly higher in the rooting zone soils at three out of six sites. Statistical correlations were significant for a number of properties and are provided at the p<0.01 level. Generally, the results indicated that running buffalo clover is not limited to a particular soil type. However, it does show preference for higher levels of many soil nutrients on a local scale.

Soil with these properties is the matrix required for the germination of running buffalo clover seeds. The seeds of the plant have an extremely hard seed coat and exhibit low germination rates. Four treatments of chemical scarification entailing immersion of seeds in concentrated sulfuric acid for (a) 5 minutes, (b) 10 minutes, (c) 20 minutes, and (d) 40 minutes showed that germination increased with increasing immersion time with the highest rate (90%) recorded in the 40-minute treatment. These results suggest that this species requires severe scarification to achieve a high seed germination rate." -USFW

"Excessive potasium increases Ph-
The effects of three levels of K fertilization and K content in plants.
High uptake of K (Potassium) from the soil can increase the PH despite high acidic level in the plant tissues."

J.R.Morris C.A. Simsand D.L Cawthon 1984

Additional information:
Karst geography video link

Benefits of mechanized Technology Used in Flood Plain Restoration video link

I have quite alot of additional evidence to present in this matter and ALL of it is aimed at a better understanding of the species and possibly preventing its demise.