Riparian plant guilds to inform revegetation after invasive species removal

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Annie Henry , Eduardo González , Bérenger Bourgeois, Anna Sher

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Invasive species have become an inextricable part of the landscape, particularly in riparian plant communities, and removal is often a key component of restoration programs. Species-based assessments used to monitor removal do not typically provide insight into the mechanisms underlying plant community response. We employ functional diversity metrics as well as guilds – suites of species with similar traits – to assess the influence of Tamarix (an invasive tree in the southwestern United States) cover on the functional composition of riparian plant communities in the presence of a biocontrol agent. We ask: 1) What traits define riparian plant guilds and how does guild abundance vary along a gradient of Tamarix cover and abiotic conditions? 2) How does the functional diversity of the plant community respond to the gradients of Tamarix cover and abiotic conditions? We found nine guilds primarily defined by reproductive strategy, as well as height, seed weight and specific leaf area. Guild abundance varied along a covarying gradient of environmental factors and Tamarix cover. Guilds focused on sexual reproduction, i.e., producing many light seeds over a long period of time were associated with drier sites and higher Tamarix cover. Tamarix itself facilitated species with higher specific leaf areas than would be expected in resource poor environments. We identified guilds with likely secondary invasive species. Native species can be chosen from these guilds to compete with secondary invasive plants in active revegetation. Additionally, guilds can be used to select species adapted to anticipated environmental conditions after invasive species removal.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program