Using Species Life History Traits To Design Landscape-Scale Reserve Networks

EPA Grant Number: FP916390
Title: Using Species Life History Traits To Design Landscape-Scale Reserve Networks
Investigators: Gogol-Prokurat, Melanie
Institution: University of California - Davis
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: January 1, 2004 through December 31, 2006
Project Amount: $101,930
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Terrestrial Ecology and Ecosystems , Academic Fellowships , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration


The objective of this research project is to address three interrelated questions about plant conservation:

(1) What combination of spatial landscape and habitat characteristics is required to maintain the maximum diversity of plant species?

(2) Is there a single conservation strategy that can be implemented for maximum success, or are multiple strategies needed?

(3) What plant traits make species’ susceptible to extirpation in the face of habitat loss or fragmentation, and how can these be addressed in reserve planning?

This research builds on the idea that plant life history traits, such as the method of seed dispersal and pollination, have evolved to maximize species persistence in the face of natural environmental variation; however, species may vary in their abilities to survive in human-altered fragmented landscapes. Theoretical and empirical methods will be used to develop recommendations for how the conservation needs of species with specific life history characters should be addressed when determining the size and configuration of reserve areas.


Field surveys will be used to test the effect on habitat patch occupancy as an indicator of persistence of plant species with varying lifespan, dispersal, and dormancy. Comparison of landscapes with contrasting spatial and temporal habitat arrangements and species with a variety of life history characteristics will show what species are vulnerable to extinction and what strategies can conserve species. For each of 30 common and 30 rare species, site data will be collected, including species occurrences, percent cover, and habitat characteristics (e.g., soil type, slope, aspect, elevation). Statistical analyses will correlate patch occupancy with lifespan, dispersal, and dormancy strategies and the size, isolation and habitat quality of sites. Empirical findings will be compared with those from theoretical models to analyze which habitat preservation strategies most effectively maintain surviving populations of plants with varying lifespan, dispersal, and dormancy strategies.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, plant conservation, habitat, landscape, plant diversity, human-altered landscape, fragmentation, reserve areas,, Scientific Discipline, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Habitat, Ecological Risk Assessment, Ecology and Ecosystems, plant conservation, habitat use, community composition, land use effects, habitat disturbance, habitat loss, anthropogenic stressors, ecological consequences, habitat fragmentation, conservation biology, species life history

Relevant Websites:

2004 STAR Graduate Fellowship Conference Poster (PDF, 1p., 119KB, about PDF)

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2004
  • 2005
  • Final