What effect does the thinning of chaparral around building structures have on plant health? More specifically, does the thinning of Ceanothus spinosus influence mechanical strength? The ability of our native chaparral to withstand environmental factors, such as the Santa Ana winds, and overall health is directly related to plant strength. Seeking to answer these questions, we hypothesized that a difference in water potential between thinned and non-thinned chaparral affects the stem mechanical strength of the plants.We believed that thinned C. spinosus due to greater hydration will be mechanically stronger than non-thinned chaparral.The knowledge of what helps chaparral to be stronger and healthier can be used to further the understanding of plant survival after a wildfire.We collected C. spinosus from thinned and non-thinned areas on Drescher campus at Pepperdine University and brought them back to the lab to measure the stem mechanical strength using the Instron and the Scholander-Hammel Pressure Chamber.After performing our research on the C. spinosus, we found that, although our data reflected higher mechanical strength in the thinned chaparral, the difference was not significant enough to support our hypothesis.
Kang, David J.; Choe, Hannah Y.; and Marchiano, Melinda L., "Stem Mechanical Strength in Thinned versus Non-thinned Ceanothus spinosus, KSP" (2012). Pepperdine University, Featured Research. Paper 40.