Ecological restoration can be prone to unpredictable outcomes, but what leads to this variation? For plant communities, conditions during the first year of restoration may influence germination and seedling survival; this, in turn, may impact the community that develops. We tested this hypothesis, with a focus on the amount of precipitation received by newly sown prairie plantings, with an experiment that manipulates water for the first nine weeks in spring-sown tallgrass prairie plots, across three establishment years. We found large differences in germination among the three planting years of this study as well as across precipitation treatments. The earliest plantings are now in their third year after sowing, and we found that plots that experienced planting-year drought showed some recovery in subsequent years (i.e. more germination by sown species), yet did not recover to match the levels of establishment of plots that had received adequate rainfall.
Anna Groves, Department of Plant Biology, Michigan State University
Anna is a community ecologist, studying prairie restoration ecology and plant community assembly in Lars Brudvig's lab at Michigan State University. She is a Ph.D. candidate in the Plant Biology department and the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior program. Before beginning graduate school at MSU, Anna earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Illinois Wesleyan University. She has interned with the McHenry County Conservation District (IL) and the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INHS/Illinois DNR/AES), as well as with the Great Basin Bird Observatory in Nevada. Today, she also curates and writes for the blog "Plant People."
Lars Brudvig, Department of Plant Biology, Michigan State University
Lars Brudvig is an Assistant Professor of Plant Ecology at Michigan State University in the Department of Plant Biology. His research investigates how human activities impact biodiversity and prospects for its restoration. Current research projects focus on plant community ecology and restoration of prairies, oak savannas, and pine woodlands.