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ARS Home » Plains Area » Miles City, Montana » Livestock and Range Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #332732

Research Project: Adaptive Rangeland Management of Livestock Grazing, Disturbance, and Climatic Variation

Location: Livestock and Range Research Laboratory

Title: A modelling framework for improving plant establishment during ecological restoration

Author
item Rinella, Matthew - Matt
item James, Jeremy

Submitted to: Ecological Modeling
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/8/2017
Publication Date: 8/29/2017
Citation: Rinella, M.J., James, J.J. 2017. A modelling framework for improving plant establishment during ecological restoration. Ecological Modeling. 361:177-183. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2017.08.005.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2017.08.005

Interpretive Summary: Plants seeded during ecological restoration projects often perish en masse, and researchers are currently searching for traits promoting increased survival. In this study of a big sagebrush ecosystem, we found survivorship rankings of seeded grass species varied across 30 experiments, indicating different traits promote survival under different environmental conditions. This led us to develop and illustrate a framework to account for survival rank variation in seed mix design. Specifically, based on survival rates, we developed functions defining explicit restoration goals and assigned species identities to a fixed number of seeds (600 seeds m-2) in a manner maximizing the goals. Our native grass density goal was most consistently met by assigning seeds to two (of a possible three) species, with the presence of >1 species denoting a biodiversity effect. Our developments could inspire a productive new area of research strategically using biodiversity to meet plant establishment goals.

Technical Abstract: Plants seeded during ecological restoration projects often perish en masse, and researchers are currently searching for traits promoting increased survival. In this study of a big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt.) ecosystem, we found survivorship rankings of seeded grass species varied across 30 experiments, indicating different traits promote survival under different environmental conditions. This led us to develop and illustrate a framework to account for survival rank variation in seed mix design. Specifically, based on survival probabilities, we developed functions defining explicit restoration goals and assigned species identities to a fixed number of seeds (600 seeds m-2) in a manner maximizing the goals. Our native grass density goal was most consistently met by assigning seeds to two (of a possible three) species, with the presence of >1 species denoting a biodiversity effect. Our developments could inspire a productive new area of research strategically using biodiversity to meet plant establishment goals.