Justin C. Luong Ph.D

Current Research

Assessing Longterm Restoration Outcomes

  • Ecological restoration has been documented as a management action since the 1980s.
  • Outcomes are often not assessed, especially past intial implementation.
  • I surveyed 37 restored coastal grasslands over from 2019-2021 to compare the vegetation data against project-based goals from project documents and management interviews, and against a standard performance metric.
  • I am especially interested in understanding why certain projects are more successful than other, the effect of time, and interannual variability.

Using Ecophysiology to Address the Impact of Global Change on Restoration

  • Global change is rapidly resulting in novel temperatures and precipitation patterns and increased nitrogen deposition and species invasion.
  • I work towards understanding how global change factors, especially drought, influence restoration outcomes and the utility of the functional traits for understanding community change and plant selection.
  • Use both physiological and morphological plant approaches in manipulative and observational field studies and controlled greenhouse environments.
  • I integrate functional and phylogenetic diversity metrics to better understand the impacts of restoration and global change on different metrics of biodiversity.

Local Adaptations in Restoration

  • The dominant restoration paradigm encourages that practitioners only use “locally” sourced plants because they may have evolved relative fitness benefits compared to non-local populations.
  • However, recent reviews found only half of plants tested are actually locally adapted, less than previously thought. And with climate change locally adaptated populations may no longer be best suited for local restoration.
  • I am currently working in collaborations to assess the presence of local adaptation in commonly used restoration species: Stipa pulchra and Eschscholzia californica in multi-sited common gardens, and in response to greenhouse fog manipulations

The Effects of Restoration on Ecosystem Functioning

  • Restoration indicates that it is multi-purposed and positively affects the biodiversity at multiple trophic levels and ecosystem functioning, but is rarely assessed
  • I work to understand how restoration affects insect communities and am currently focusing on coccinellids
  • I am currently working to understand how mid-term grassland restoration affects soil carbon

Long-term recovery of the endangered Nipomo Lupine (Fabaceae: Lupinus nipomensis)