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Abstract Detail


Wessel, Sienna [1], Jones, Laura [2], Kramer, Erik [2], Shoemaker, Lauren [1], Laughlin, Daniel [1].

Trajectories and drivers of compositional and functional change in restored sagebrush steppe communities of Grand Teton National Park.

Ecological restoration is critical for the preservation of biodiversity, especially with recent trends showing rapid decline under global change; however, restoration efforts are often challenged by poorly understood ecological drivers and unpredictable outcomes. At least 45% of the sagebrush steppe ecosystem has already been lost and what remains is threatened by invasion, land use, and climate change (Miller et al. 2011)-highlighting the pressing need for successful restoration practices.   Since 2009, Grand Teton National Park has worked to restore 534 ha of pastureland to diverse and functional sagebrush steppe communities. We analyzed plant community monitoring data from 19 restored sites incorporating functional trait measurements, soil properties, inter-annual climate data, and seed mix design records. Our aims were to evaluate restoration trajectories compared to nine intact reference sites, to understand the impact of conditions at the time of seeding on restoration outcomes, and to compare the predictability of nine species-based (compositional) and nine trait-based (functional) community metrics. Restored sites reached a high degree of functional similarity to intact sites within five years and then plateaued while compositional similarity was consistently low, but did increase over ten years. As they aged, restored sites increased in seeded species cover but saw a decrease in native species richness. Around years six and seven, community compositions shifted towards decreased grass proportions and increased perennial forb and shrub proportions. Functional dispersion, leaf dry matter content, and vegetative height increased with time while specific leaf area and turgor loss point decreased. All metrics were also driven by seed mix design, soil texture, and post-seeding weather and their interactions with restoration age, which suggests that both restoration design and climate change will influence restoration outcomes. Compositional and functional similarity to intact sites were both highly predictable across sites, however, trait-based metrics were marginally more predictable than species-based metrics in many cases. These results increase our understanding of how ecological drivers and the metrics used to define success play a role in restoration predictability.

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1 - University of Wyoming, Botany, Laramie, WY, 82070, United States
2 - National Park Service, USA

plant community ecology
sagebrush steppe
functional traits.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: ECO4, Ecology: Community Assemblages, Succession and Marcescence
Location: /
Date: Thursday, July 22nd, 2021
Time: 10:00 AM(EDT)
Number: ECO4001
Abstract ID:884
Candidate for Awards:Ecological Section Best Graduate Student Paper

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