We study multiple facets of plant community diversity in the tallgrass prairie, including phylogenetic and functional diversity. We also study how management decisions impact restoration outcomes in restored prairies, as well as other habitats like oak woodlands.
SEEDS AND SEED MIXES
Traits of seeds can influence their germination and establishment in restorations. We study the seed biology of restoration species. We also study how seed mix design can be changed to better meet restoration goals, and how seed mix biodiversity translates to plant community diversity. This research occurs in the laboratories of the Chicago Botanic Garden, and with many collaborators at a large scale plot experiment (pictured) at the Morton Arboretum.
DECISION MAKING FOR RESTORATION
This work integrates questions in social science and ecological science to understand how restoration mangers make decisions, and how these decisions influence restoration outcomes. For this project, I collaborate with Lars Brudvig, at Michigan State University, Kay Havens at Chicago Botanic Garden, and Zhao Ma at Purdue University. If you are a land manager that designs seed mixes for restoration and you'd like to be involved, please contact me! (This work began as a Smith Fellows project)
LAWN ALTERNATIVE PLANTINGS
Turfgrass lawns are green, but they don't have much biodiversity, and they use a lot of water and chemicals to maintain. There is a lot of potential for lawn alternatives, plantings that might require less maintenance and contribute to ecosystem function. We are collaborating with Lauren Umek at Chicago Park District, Rebecca Tonietto at UM-Flint, Liz Anna Kozik at UW-Madison (artist and creator of the illustration you see above) and others to study lawn alternatives in Chicago parks. For lots more information about this project check out rethinkinglawns.org. This work is funded by the Walder Foundation's Biota Award and the Eppley Foundation for Research.