Plant functional traits inform plant species selection for restoration to meet multiple management goals.

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Trace Martyn, Leslie Roche, Elise Gornish

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For restoration, it is important to select species that can be easily established and maintain a stable population as well as meet multiple management goals and improve ecosystem services. Plant functional traits can influence ecosystem services and demography and, therefore, can inform species selection for restoration seeding. Our aims were to quantify the plant functional trait distribution of plant species in Arizona and California, USA to understand how they may impact ecosystem services and demography. We collected above and belowground trait data for at least 10 established plant species at each restoration site (both native and exotic) as well as for species seeded for restoration into the communities. We compared trait distributions between native and exotic species and seeded species. We also examined distributions of traits that have know associations with ecosystem services such as floral display and aboveground biomass for forage. Using these associations, we determined species selections that can meet specific or multiple management goals such as erosion reduction and pollinator resources. Perennial grasses offer soil stability with deep rooting systems, forage with their large biomass, and their high fecundity contributes to stable population growth. Forbs provide additional forage as well as pollinator resources with a variety of colors and sizes of flowers. Taking these are other factors into consideration, we can select species that address multiple management goals to seed for restoration.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

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