Technical Report

 

Final report: Predicting field establishment rates from standardized plant traits - Year two of: Restoring prairies: A synthesis of studies on vegetation and invasive species in support of effective management Public Deposited

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  • Willamette Valley wetland prairies are some of the most endangered ecosystems in the United States, and provide habitat for many federally listed species (Wilson et al. 1993, Noss et al. 1995, USFWS 2000, Schultz et al. 2003). A rigorous program of ecosystem restoration can protect and enhance wetland plants, animals, and services (Pywell and Putwain 1996). The restoration projects of the West Eugene Wetlands Program (WEWP) comprise one of the few large-scale and long-term integrated restoration programs in the world. Successful ecosystem restoration requires establishing and maintaining native plants. In turn, plant establishment hinges on having suitable environmental conditions, using species with adequate germination and growth rates, and reducing competitive pressure from non-native plants (Figure 1). In year one of this project, we synthesized the wealth of plant establishment data during wetland restoration in the West Eugene Wetlands Program (Wilson 2004). In year two, our objectives were to expand on these results in several important ways: • Generalize these results through the investigation of plant traits (Table 1) that consistently correspond to the patterns of establishment and vigor (Figure 1). • Systematically compile the results into a trait database. This database includes findings from similar ecosystems, both in the Willamette Valley and elsewhere. • Testing the effect of habitat variation on the relationship between traits and seedling establishment patterns. Our goal is to predict key aspects of prairie restoration performance, in this case establishment rates, based on species traits and habitat. These predictions can then be applied as management recommendations, such as which species to sow to maximize native plant abundance at a given site, even if the species have not been field tested. The two components of our project–plant traits and the database–are crucial to this goal. • Without the generalization that traits allow, understanding of wetland restoration increases slowly and expensively, one case study at a time. • The organization of the database will increase the power and efficiency of revealing the relationships between plant traits and plant performance. Perhaps even more important is the role of the database in developing a Web-based expert system for managers wishing to plan wetland restorations.
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  • 30 pages
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  • Order No. HEP040027
  • Submitted to Bureau of Land Management, Eugene District.
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