What We Do

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

People involved: Claudia Stein, Lotte Korrell (visiting graduate student from Germany), Dr. Harald Auge, Dr. John Maron, Dr. Dean E. Pearson

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?

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?

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?