Identifying Effective Strategies for Converting Suburban Lawn into Restored Forest

Human development has resulted in significant loss of woodland habitat and its associated biodiversity. Thus, preserving and restoring forest habitats is critical for recovering this biodiversity, as well as the ecosystem services forests provide. While much attention has been devoted to restoring degraded woodlands to their historical conditions, fewer studies have attempted to understand the process of transforming highly-altered, suburban lawn-dominated landscapes into healthy forest ecosystems. In this study, we evaluated different strategies for establishing a temperate forest ecosystem onto land which previously supported managed lawn. Five different native, herbaceous, woodland plants (Arisaema triphyllum, Carex pensylvanica, Diarrhena americana, Geranium maculatum, and Podophyllum peltatum) were planted around five different native woody species (Acer rubrum, Amelanchier arborea, Cercis canadensis, Tsuga canadensis, and Viburnum opulus) in four different leaf mulch soil treatments. We collected survivorship and performance data to assess how trees and soil treatments affected each herbaceous species. We found significant differences in overall survivorship among herbaceous perennials, as well as differences in survivorship depending on species of neighboring tree. Contrastingly, soil treatment did not affect survivorship or performance of herbaceous perennials, although it did influence the prevalence of weedy species.

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Friday, January 15, 2016 - 3:55pm to 4:25pm
Micah Warners
Calvin College
Micah is a senior student at Calvin College studying Biology, Spanish and Science Education. He enjoys working in the field of restoration ecology, and was a leader of a river restoration program for urban youth this past summer in Grand Rapids, MI. He plans on attending graduate school after he finishes Calvin.
Dave Warners
Calvin College
Dr. Warners is a Professor at Calvin College. He works in the areas of Restoration Ecology, Plant Systematics and Evolution, Sustainability Studies and Faith-based Creation Care. His current research focusses on how to engage the local community to work together to restore health and beauty to the Plaster Creek Watershed. This work involves propagating native plants from local genotypes for use in habitat re-creations, as well as ongoing research on stream microbes, macro-invertebrates, flow dynamics, and overall water quality. He has also done work in prairie, forest, and wetland restorations.
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