Willamette Valley (Oregon) Prairie Plant Trait Dataset

Restoration of native habitats is a crucial strategy for biological conservation.  Progress in the successful restoration of native habitats is slowed, however, by our limited ability to generalize and predict species responses to restoration management treatments. The scientific literature contains numerous studies describing the effects of restoration management treatments on vegetation, but the studies are often species-specific and site-specific.  General patterns, which are necessary to develop predictions of the effects of management, are therefore difficult to identify.

One promising approach to address the issue of species-specific results is using plant traits as a common language to characterize plant responses rather than using taxonomic identity.  Functional plant traits are well-defined characteristics that relate to plant species’ patterns of establishment, growth and resource allocation, and that evolved in response to abiotic environmental conditions and interactions with other species. Thus, functional plant traits are those that strongly influence a plant’s performance.

The Willamette Valley (Oregon) Prairie Plant Trait Dataset is a compilation of plant traits of species important in upland prairies, wetland prairies, vernal pools, emergent wetlands, and in the restoration of prairies and wetlands of the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  These species are also found widely throughout the Pacific Northwest.

The dataset contains more than 6600 data points on 187 species.  Three types of plant trait data are included in the dataset: quantitative, categorical, and text.  Sources of plant trait data include direct measurements in the field or in the laboratory, or gathered from the published literature, including local floras, references books and databases.

Laboratory measurements include measurements of plant growth under standardized growth chamber conditions.  The use of standardized conditions allows integration of results with those in the scientific literature.  Standardized growth chamber conditions include specifications for germination media, transfer of germinants, pot size, growing media, nutrient solutions, growing illumination and temperatures, and dates of harvest.  Growth chamber procedures followed the general recommendations of the Integrated Screening Programme (Hendry, G.A.F. and Grime, J.P. (eds) 1993.  Methods in Comparative Plant Ecology: A Laboratory Manual.  Chapman and Hall, London).

Detailed protocols for the following quantitative measurements (listed below) can be found in Clark, D.L. and Wilson, M.V.  2005.  Restoring prairies: A synthesis of studies on vegetation and invasive species in support of effective management (Year two) Progress Report II Order NO. HEP040027, which is accessible at OSU ScholarsArchives (https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/technical_reports/v692tc350) or at Cascadia Prairie Oak Partnership Technical Library (https://cascadiaprairieoak.org/technical-library).

a.      Protocol for measuring plant traits for seedlings under standardized conditions based on Hendry and Grime 1993.
b.     Protocol for measuring seed mass.
c.      Protocol for measuring seed dimensions.
d.     Protocol for germinating seeds
e.      Seed germination requirements for target species

Several quantitative plant trait values were calculated from the raw growth chamber data.  The calculations for these plants traits are described in the file Willamette Valley (Oregon) Prairie Plant Trait Descriptions, one of the dataset files.

Access to dataset at Oregon State University ScholarsArchive: https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/datasets/6q182r738