Some current projects include:
Native grassland restoration and nitrogen deposition: How do competition and propagule pressure influence the continued success of annual exotic grasses in California? Do feedbacks through soil resources or mycorrhizae enable persistence? Does nitrogen deposition intensify these interactions? Can we assist the recovery of native perennial grasses?
- People involved: Claudia Stein, Loralee Larios, Dr. Stan Harpole
- Study system: California grasslands
- Recent Paper: Grman, E. and K. Suding 2011 Within year soil legacies contribute to strong priority effects of exotics on native California grassland communities
Restoration: breaking the cycle of invasion. Following the removal of an invasive species, when can natives recover without additional intervention? How can we assess when additional intervention is necessary? Is there some threshold reduction for sustainable restoration to occur? When can the application of ideas relating to novel ecosystems optimize biodiversity and ecosystem services?
- People involved: Sara Jo Dickens, Lauren Hallett, Loralee Larios
- Study System: California grasslands and Coastal sage scrub
- Recent Papers:
- Suding 2011 Toward an era of restoration ecology: successes, failures, and opportunities ahead
- Hobbs et al 2011 Intervention ecology: Applying ecological science in the twenty-first century
- Cleland et al 2012. Strengthening invasion filters to reassemble native plant communities: soil resources and phonological overlap
Community assembly and functional traits: Can we use functional trait relationships to better optimize multiple ecosystem services in complex landscapes? Can it guide species selection in restoration plantings?
- People involved: Lauren Hallett, Brad Butterfield, Hui Gao, and Dr. Marko Spasojevic,
- Study System: Urban creeks and California rangelands
- Recent Paper: Funk, J. and K. Suding 2008. Restoration through reassembly: plant traits and invasion resistance
Diversity and climate variability. Does plant diversity buffer the effect of increased precipitation variability on forage production? How do compensatory dynamics vary over regional gradients in precipitation and precipitation variability?
- People involved: Lauren Hallett, Joanna Hsu
- Study System: California grasslands and Serpentine grasslands
Consumer effects on establishment of grassland species. How do small mammal and gastropod activity affect patterns of plant community structure and ecosystem function? Is establishment success of species and the impact of herbivores dependent on background diversity or productivity of the resident plant community? Do these interactions differ for exotic versus native plant species?
Multiple interactions among global change factors: How will the combined influences of warming, snowpack, nitrogen deposition influence alpine biodiversity and the establishment of woody plants? Does the establishment of woody plants feedback to influence these interactions?
Diversity loss and nitrogen: Why is increased nitrogen associated with declines in plant diversity? Is it competitive interactions? Changed plant-microbial interactions?
- People involved: Emily Farrer, Dr. Robert Sinsabaugh, and Dr. Andrea Porras-Alfaro
- Study System: Alpine tundra
- Recent Paper: Suding et al 2008. Plant and microbe contribution to community resilience in a directionally changing environment
Regime shifts and rangelands: Does grazing management influence threshold dynamics in California rangelands? Are transitions between different grassland states (annual forage grasses, native perennials, noxious weeds) triggered by grazing? Do plant-soil feedbacks accelerate these shifts?
Spatial thresholds in invasion: Do cross-scale interactions influence how problematic invaders form patches and spread across the landscape? How can these processes translate to noxious weed invasion in rangelands? Can we reverse these thresholds using management tools such as fire?
- People involved: Erica Spotswood, Claudia Stein, Dr. Scott Stephens
- Study System: California Rangelands and Oak Woodlands
- Recent paper: Suding and Hobbs 2009. Threshold models in restoration and conservation: a developing framework
Barriers to oak recruitment: Why are so few oaks able to recruit in oak woodlands? Is a demographic bottleneck to blame? How do seasonal grazing practices and annual grasses influence this bottleneck?
- People involved: Dr. Susana Buritica-Rodriguez, Dr. Stan Harpole, Dr. Mitch McClaran
- Study System: Oak woodlands