Community assembly and restoration

Experimental exclosure testing consumer effects on community assembly

What plant community will result following restoration?

This is a common question in restoration ecology.  Unfortunately, answers can vary tremendously, even within ecosystems, leading to a common conclusion that restoration outcomes are site-specific.  Although this may be true to an extent, we can make sense of this site-to-site variation by understanding how the various factors that define ‘a site’ influence restoration outcomes.    

Group photo July 2009

Using longleaf pine woodlands of the Southeastern United States, we are testing how factors such as land-use history, landscape connectivity, management history, edaphic conditions, and biotic interactions underlie understory community assembly.     

These answers will help us understand the site-to-site variation across longleaf woodlands and target specific restoration strategies, based on the factors underlying degradation.

Current collaborators include Ellen Damschen and John Orrock (U. of Wisconsin-Madison), Lars Brudvig (MSU), Joan Walker (Clemson U., USDA Forest Service), and postdocs Susan Carr, Brett Mattingly, and Joe Veldman.