Restoring prairies: A synthesis of studies on vegetation and invasive species in support of effective management (Year two)

In year one of this project, we synthesized the wealth of data in the West Eugene Wetlands establishment data set on plant abundance after sowing native species during wetland restoration (Wilson 2004). In year two, we will build and expand on these results in several important ways:

• We are generalizing these results through the investigation of plant traits that consistently correspond to the patterns of establishment and vigor.
• We are systematically compiling the results from year one and year two of this project into a public database. We are adding to this database findings from similar ecosystems, both in the Willamette Valley and elsewhere.
• We are considering further the role of microsite variability on seedling establishment patterns.
• We are synthesizing these results into scientific conclusions.
• We are integrating these results, where there is sufficient support, into concrete and defensible management recommendations

Our goal is to develop an ability to predict key aspects of prairie restoration performance, such as establishment rates, based on knowing species traits, site conditions, and maintenance. These predictions can then be converted into management recommendations, such as which species to sow and which site preparation and maintenance regimes should be followed to maximize native plant abundance and minimize non-native plant abundance at a given site.

Many of the key plant traits are not yet available in the Willamette Valley Species Database or from the ecological literature. Thus, we started a series of studies to measure key plant traits based on our knowledge of the mechanisms influencing the seedling establishment process. The studies included measurements of plant growth under standardized growth chamber conditions, measurement of seed characteristics, and determination of other traits from direct observation or from published references.