Date of Award
Master of Science in Environmental Science
College of Sciences and Health Professions
Ecology, Plant Biology
Restoration outcomes can be variable and there is a need to understand the short- and long-term responses of the vegetation community. It is important to see if management goals are being met by evaluating restoration outcomes. Restoration goals often include establishing native species, increasing conservation value, and providing pollinator resources throughout the year. Assessing communities is commonly done though a taxonomic approach by using species presence and abundance. Another method of evaluation is through functional traits or species traits and their abundance. Both give different perspectives on how the community is achieving management goals. While taxonomic assessments can give insight into native species metrics, a functional trait approach can give insight into the processes influencing the assembly of species. This research evaluates restoration through a taxonomic and functional trait approach. A seeding experiment at Observatory Park, Geauga County, was conducted to see if there are differences in functional diversity before and after a restoration as well as between methods of broadcast and drill seeding. I found that broadcast seeding from the seed mix had a greater richness and abundance of species and a higher mean coefficient of conservatism than in the drill seeded plot. However, the drill seeded plot had a greater diversity of native species. Functional composition analysis found individual traits differed between treatments. Multivariate functional trait analyses, which included the traits of leaf dry matter content, height, seed mass and reproductive phenology, did not identify differences between treatments. This survey characterized the plant community in the early stage of restoration. To understand regional patterns of restoration and functional diversity, I surveyed 5 paired restored and unrestored sites in the Cleveland, Ohio Metropolitan Area. Restored plots had a significantly higher coefficient of conservatism than plots that were not restored. There was no difference in native richness or diversity between plots, but native abundance increased as a restoration progressed. Flowering phenology was most abundant in summer and tended to have lower abundance in spring and in fall. There was no difference in functional diversity between restored and unrestored plots. These insights into restoration can guide natural resource managers in planning restorations.
Plevniak, Keri, "Functional Diversity and Restoration of Meadows in Northeast Ohio" (2019). ETD Archive. 1131.