Year of Publication

2014

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Agriculture, Food and Environment

Department

Plant and Soil Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Rebecca McCulley

Abstract

Grasslands comprise the greatest biome by land area, are sensitive to environmental factors affected by climate change, and can impact future climate change through their ability to store and release greenhouse gasses (GHGs). I performed two studies: 1) evaluated the effects of increased temperature and precipitation on slug herbivory/abundance and pasture forage production; 2) quantified different homeowner lawn system effects on soil-to-atmosphere GHG emissions. Climate change will likely affect pasture forage production, with implications for slug herbivory and abundance. I found little evidence that slugs have or will have significant effects on pasture production or plant community. Warming altered the abundance of slugs and modified seasonal trends, increasing slug abundance in spring/winter and reducing it in late-summer/fall, through both direct effects and changes in plant community and forage quality. Home lawns vary in levels of management, influencing the exchange of GHGs. I quantified the effects of three common home lawn systems of central Kentucky on GHG emissions, but found no significant differences in CO2, N2O, and NH3 fluxes. My research suggests that slug herbivory is not a dominant ecological process in Kentucky pastures and that common home lawn systems have similar soil-to-atmosphere GHG emissions.