Biodiversity Graduate Student Research Enhancement Grant Awardee
Department of Botany
Graduate Advisor: Dr. Laughlin
Grand Teton National Park (GRTE) began a large scale restoration project in 2009 to replace pasture grasses with diverse and stable sagebrush steppe communities. Observations show that restored communities are characterized by highly different floristic compositions compared to intact reference sites (pers. comm. Laura Jones, National Park Service). However, no comprehensive analysis of the success of these restorations has been conducted and it is uncertain whether current targets are appropriate goals in light of the unknown effects of current and expected climate change in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. My project objectives are 1) to determine what drives restoration trajectories towards desired outcomes, 2) to assess whether trait-based targets can improve restoration predictability, and 3) to test whether or not traits can predict population and community level responses to climatic variation. GRTE staff will use the results of my work to adapt restoration practices and to create climate-resilient restoration designs. This work supports the goals of the Biodiversity Graduate Student Research Enhancement Grant Program by determining what drives generation of sagebrush steppe biodiversity through the lens of restoration and how this diversity impacts ecosystem services including stability of biomass in the face of increasing climatic variation. Additionally, understanding how sagebrush steppe communities respond to climate at the population and community levels is necessary for the development of plans that maintain biodiversity long term.
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