Basic science for meadow restoration in the Oregon Coast Range
Meadows are declining in the Pacific Northwest, and land management in the Oregon Coast Range has contributed to losses of meadow obligate habitat and resource availability for large mammals. The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde has attempted to mitigate this pattern by creating meadows on its forested reservation. These managed meadows have transitioned to early seral communities, illustrating a need for better understanding of meadows in the region. This study addresses the question: What drives meadow persistence in the temperate rainforests of the Oregon Coast Range? Evidence is weighed for topoedaphic and anthropogenic controls. Candidate meadows were identified with LiDAR and satellite imagery, and their historical persistence measured by aerial photography and maps. Phytoliths extends the window of analysis thousands of years into the past. Community analysis of vegetation defines meadow plant associations and woody invasion processes. Ground-penetrating radar coupled with subsurface sampling and surface models quantify topographic and edaphic controls. Archaeological excavation coupled with oral histories and historical documents illuminate human influences on meadow formation and maintenance. Experimental planting in meadows and surrounding forest ties these controls to establishment success for non-meadow species.
This study will delineate meadow communities and indicator species, quantify drivers of meadow stability, and articulate management recommendations from these findings. Natural and anthropogenic site characteristics favoring meadow persistence will be described for future investigation and use.