Native Plants and Restoration

Native Plants and Restoration Ecology

“Vegetation is one of the major geographical features of almost all parts of the earth’s surface. … In major ecosystems, at least, it is an essential component, as it includes the primary production apparatus that fuels the system by capture of solar energy.  Practically every terrestrial view that man has of his environment, outside his own constructions, … is almost sure to be primarily of vegetation.  It is the most obvious surface feature of the land.  On it depends the existence of all animal life.  Most human activities deal in some respect with vegetation or its products.  In other words, vegetation is an inescapable fact of life.  As such, it is one of the most important of all subjects for investigation and study.” — F.R. Fosberg, Foreword to Mueller-Dombois and Ellenberg’s Aims and Methods of Vegetation Ecology (1974)
As the foundation for terrestrial life, vegetation is one of the most manipulated features in Great Plains landscapes.  North America’s Great Plains have experienced some of the most extensive loss of native vegetation in the world.  Current and potential stressors on Great Plains native plants and the communities they comprise include habitat destruction and fragmentation, invasive species, river flow management, climate change, atmospheric nutrient deposition, pollution, and altered fire and grazing regimes.  We are investigating a range of topics with the goal understanding the effects of these stressors on native plant species and communities in order to better protect and restore them.

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