Ariel Cherbowsky

Joining Restoration Ecology and Community Participation for the Benefit of the Strawberry Creek Restoration Project

This research is part of the 2013 TGIF Grant “Fitting Plant to Place” which grows from work done through the 2012 TGIF Grant “Filling the Weed-Shaped Hole”. Both projects have been undertaken with the guidance of the Suding Lab of Professor Katharine Suding from the department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, including graduate students Lauren Hallett and Dylan Chapple.

We are testing the effects of ivy on the growth of six native Californian plant species that have similar or varying traits to ivy. By testing the ecological concept of “limiting similarity”, which theorizes that plant species will compete more readily with other plant species that share similar functional traits, we hope to provide the Strawberry Creek Restoration Project with a better understanding of what native plants can be most successful at growing in areas impacted by the growth of ivy.

Another important aspect of our work involves sustaining community involvement in the restoration project by organizing public restoration events and continuing environmental education efforts, including monthly meetings with students from Berkeley High School’s AP Environmental Science class.

Interested students would assist in maintaining the experimental planting plots set up on the main UC Berkeley campus on the banks of Strawberry Creek. Students would also gain experience in taking measurements of the plants or of other characteristics of the environment, such as the soil conditions, and handling ecological data. The community aspect of the restoration project, such as public outreach and leading restoration volunteer days, could also be a vivid and exciting part of the mentorship experience.

Contact: ariel.cherbowsky@berkeley.edu

Theoretical Papers:

-A handbook of protocols for standardised and easy measurement of plant functional traits worldwide (Cornelissen et al. 2003)

-Ecological Citizenship: The Democratic Promise of Restoration (Andrew Light)