OOS 28 - Restoration of Colorado Plateau Ecosystems: Establishing Resilient Communities In the Face of Climate and Land Use Change

Wednesday, August 8, 2012: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
B116, Oregon Convention Center
Troy Wood, U.S. Geological Survey
Wayne Padgett, Bureau of Land Management
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has established ecoregion-based plant materials development programs focused on restoring ecosystem resilience in the West. The agency is looking at past, present, and projected future resource and climate conditions as well as advances in the ecological sciences to develop genetically adapted and resilient (evolvable) lines of key plants species. While the focus of restoration ecology has traditionally been on establishing demographically viable native plant populations in the face of invasives and climate variablity, the BLM recognizes that this establishment is only the first step in the recovery of ecosystem-wide resilience. Consequently, we have invited workers who take on a broader, community perspective. To establish context, we start with presentations on 1) how historical and projected precipitation patterns on the Colorado Plateau (CP) can shape restoration strategies, for example, when and where to deploy C3 versus C4 grasses (Baker), and 2) how landscape-scale assessments of current and predicted ecological conditions on the CP can help prioritize restoration efforts (Bryce). Next, the results of a common garden study (six disparate sites across the CP) of workhorse native grass species will be presented (Memmott); a critical first step in developing plant materials for use on the CP, a where very few native taxa are available. This phenotype-based study is followed by an analysis of the correlation between genetic and environmental variation in three species distributed across an elevation gradient in southern Utah, a study funded by the National Park Service to establish propagule transfer zones (Wood and Miller). The next talk evaluates the impact of cheatgrass on native big squirreltail (Rowe and Leger), demonstrating the importance of both local, ecotypic variation and evolvability in the development of restoration materials. We then focus on the ecology of a dominant species, blackbrush: how this species shapes communities across the CP and the challenges of diversifying overgrazed stands (Pendleton). We conclude the session in a broader framework––first by examining bottom up determinants of restoration success (Bowker and Chaudhary) and then by discussing the impact of predator-driven trophic cascades (Eisenberg). Individually, these presentations will be of interest to much of the ESA membership, as they present new data addressing fundamental questions. Taken together with the anticipated interaction among participants, they will advance our efforts to recover degraded sites on the CP, efforts that are in line with the theme of ESA 2012.
8:00 AM
 Climatic implications for restoration of ecosystems on the Colorado Plateau under a changing climate
Barry Baker, The Nature Conservancy; Robert Gillies, Utah State University; S.-Y. Simon Wang, Utah State University; Troy Wood, U.S. Geological Survey
8:20 AM
 Mapping landscape intactness for BLM rapid ecoregional assessments
James Strittholt, Conservation Biology Institute; Tim Sheehan, Conservation Biology Institute; Brendan Ward, Conservation Biology Institute
9:00 AM
 Population genetic structure in three foundational grassland species: Implications for restoration in arches and canyonlands national parks
Meeyoon Choo, University of Memphis; Takuya Nakazato, University of Memphis; Mark E. Miller, National Park Service; Troy Wood, U.S. Geological Survey
9:20 AM
 Evolution meets ecology: Can native grasses evolve in response to cheatgrass invasion?
Courtney J. Rowe, USDA Forest Service; Elizabeth A. Leger, University of Nevada, Reno
9:40 AM
9:50 AM
 Ecological dynamics of blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima), an iconic landscape dominant
Rosemary Pendleton, USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station; Burton Pendleton, USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station; Susan E. Meyer, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station; Bryce A. Richardson, US Forest Service; Todd C. Esque, US Geological Survey, Westen Ecological Science Center; Stanley G. Kitchen, U.S. Forest Service
10:10 AM
 Reducing erosion, ameliorating stress, resisting invasion: Roles for soil organisms in ecological restoration
Nicole M. DeCrappeo, U.S. Geological Survey, DOI Northwest Climate Science Center; Matthew A. Bowker, Northern Arizona University; Veer B. Chaudhary, Loyola University Chicago
10:30 AM
 How predators influence communities: Fire, wolves, elk and aspen trophic cascades, case studies from the Rocky Mountains
Cristina Eisenberg, Oregon State University; David E. Hibbs, Oregon State University
See more of: Organized Oral Session