Understanding how plant communities assemble after restoration is a critical component of establishing a diverse plant community that can provide better ecosystem services. Often restoration assessments focus on taxonomic diversity, revealing little about the functional traits of the plants present. An emphasis on functional trait diversity can give greater insight into how restoration can impact ecosystem services. This study compares the plant community of restored and unrestored meadows in Northeast Ohio to understand how functional diversity contributes to processes such as pollination, resistance to invading non-natives and resource use.
A pre-restoration survey was completed in summer 2016 and seeding was applied in October 2016 at Observatory Park Geauga County, Ohio. Two commonly used seeding methods, broadcast and drill seeding, were applied to understand if seeding methods affect establishment of plants important to the provisioning of ecosystem services. We hypothesized that seeding would increase functional diversity and that there would be a difference in germination rates between the two seeding methods. Analyses focus on the functional diversity of plant traits before and after restoration. The TRY online plant trait database was used to analyze functional composition with a focus on traits relating to growth form, phenology and resource use.
Preliminary results from the pre-restoration survey revealed that native plants composed 38% of the 50 species identified and made up only about 6% of the cover. The four species with the most cover were Cyperus esculentus, Lepidium campestre, Poa trivialis and Trifolium repens, all of which are non-native. These species also indicate pollination services may not be robust pre-restoration. For example, Lepidium campestre and Trifolium repens are insect pollinated and bloom in spring. However, the timing of flowering of these two species does not provide resources throughout the year for pollinators. Ecosystem services are increasingly being recognized as essential to our health and well-being. For this reason, using functional diversity to assess restorations and plant communities will be important for future planning of natural areas.