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Enhancing restoration success: Trait-based approaches

Reseeding species with desirable traits has demonstrated the capacity to enhance a variety of interacting ecosystem services while also enhancing forage quality and quantity. Reseeding species with high forage value that are resistant to invasives can also create a barrier to both existing weed regeneration and increase plant community resistance to future invasion. Our proposed work directly addresses one of the most critical obstacles faced by stakeholders of working landscapes today: how to sustainably increase production in changing environmental conditions while adapting to and mitigating impacts of extreme drought and invasion by exotic plants. Through linking plant traits with ecosystem services, this research area improves upon rangeland reseeding approaches by identifying and utilizing plants to maintain high foraging quality and increase rangeland resistance to drought and plant invasion, while enhancing other desirable ecosystem services such as soil quality, erosion control, and biodiversity. This approach provides a viable path to promote good stewardship of natural resources and improve the environmental quality of working grasslands. This reseeding approach also reduces the overall cost of re-establishing multiple essential ecosystem services on rangelands. This work is being done on Elkhorn Ranch in collaboration with the Altar Valley Conservation Alliance and funded by Western SARE, the Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch in collaboration with the Audubon Society and funded by the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management and a long running collaboration with researchers from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

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