Abstract Detail


Siminitus, Elizabeth [1].

Studying reforestation through the approach of adaptive management.

Restoration science, including reforestation efforts, focuses on repairing ecosystems that have been disturbed, expanding the benefits of forests for climate change, biodiversity, and people. However, reforestation is not a straightforward process, and many projects ultimately fail because tree species cannot survive in the habitats where they are planted. Adaptive management is an approach to resource management that emphasizes collecting data to learn the most effective practices, and applying lessons learned from these data to update future management plans. Following this approach and exploring variables that challenge the success of restoration projects can help to achieve both societal and ecological goals of reforestation.This study focuses on the reforestation of a plot of land on the Hamilton College campus in upstate New York that was formerly a golf course. The environment of a college campus provides a good incubator for restoration ecology because there is lots of interest and engagement from the student body and professors. Here, I focus on the role of native herbivores to influence the outcome of reforestation. Seeds from a variety of species around the campus were collected and planted with the help of volunteers from the college. I placed 20 cages over planted seeds, half of which excluded herbivores, and half of which allowed herbivores to access the seeds while controlling for the effects of cages on microclimate. I then set up five motion-sensor trail cameras to observe the activity of herbivores in the reforestation plot. Results so far have been focused on the diversity of herbivores active in the plot, as the seeds are dormant and beginning to germinate. Approximately seven species have been observed so far, including deer, squirrels, skunks, rabbits, robins, blue jays, and foxes. Continuing research will focus on three questions to quantitatively measure the success of this method. First, is it more effective to plant seeds or seedlings for reforestation? To answer this question, I will collect data from various sites around campus, measuring the percent ground cover of woody plants, i.e., trees. Second, what are the best species to plant in reforestation efforts? This question will consider the carbon sequestration potential of species as well as their potential to promote animal and plant biodiversity and contribute to a complex ecosystem. Third, how do native herbivores challenge reforestation efforts? By measuring growth success within and outside of the cages, I can infer whether barriers like cages or fences (which are expensive) are necessary for future planting endeavors.

1 - Hamilton College, 198 College Hill Rd, Clinton, NY, 13323, USA


Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number: EC02002
Abstract ID:484
Candidate for Awards:None

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