Ongoing Research Projects
Functional Traits and Grassland Restoration
Ecological restoration seeks to alleviate loss of unique ecosystems through native plant reintroductions
and invasive species control. However, restoration outcomes can be unpredictable and may become more so with
climate change. We are interested in exploring new methods to improve restoration success in coastal
prairies to improve coastal ecosystem resilience to droughts. We planted native plant species under rain-out
shelters designed to simulate a 1-in-100 year drought. We are interested in understanding if plant traits
and evolutionary relationships are predictive of plant survival and growth. We are also interested in
whether plant traits can explain changes in plant communities.
The objectives of this research are to:
(1) determine whether non-species-specific metrics such as functional traits and phylogenetics can help
explain the survival and growth of restored native plants when exposed to extreme drought
(2) use these findings to improve restoration success in the context of climate change.
Does Stipa pulchra (Poaceae) exhibit local adaptation?
- Collaborative project with Maddie Nolan (UCSB) and Justin Valliere (UCLA)
- Compares whether Stipa pulchra (purple needle grass), a commonly used grassland species in restoration,
exhibits local adaptation based on seed provenance
- Compares survival, reproductive potential and a functional trait of 7 localities of seeds at 3 different
gardens along a latitudinal gradient
The effects of grassland restoration on Lady Beetle (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) community assemblages
- Restoration often touts that it is multi-purposed and positively affects the biodiversity at multiple
trophic levels however, little work is done on understanding how insect communities may change after
- We targeted Coccinellids due their importance economically due to agricultural production and because
there are known species within the family that are known to be invasive
- Collections are targeted at restored, non-restored and remnant sites that were used as restoration
The long-term influence of microhabitat factors in establishing the endangered Nipomo Lupine (Fabaceae: Lupinus nipomensis)
- Studies have found that a majority of rare and endangered plant establishment efforts have failed due to an
incomplete knowledge base of habitat preferences.
- An outplanting experiment was started in 2015 using 2880 Nipomo Lupine seeds in a variety of microhabitats
- Long-term monitoring is taking place to determine the role of microhabitats in sustainable establishment of
endangered species as ecological trends are often not visible for several years
- Factors include abiotic conditions and some potential biotic interactions