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Title:Determining vegetation metric robustness to environmental and methodological variables, and coefficients of conservatism for the flora of the Middle Rio Grande, New Mexico
Author(s):Stern, Jess L
Advisor(s):Matthews, Jeffrey W
Department / Program:Natural Res & Env Sci
Discipline:Natural Res & Env Sciences
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Restoration ecology
coefficients of conservatism
Abstract:Common vegetation metrics used in monitoring of ecological restorations include measures of vegetation structure and measures of species diversity and composition. Metrics of species diversity and composition are often used as proxies for overall biological diversity of a site, but some metrics may be misleading in their ability to fully capture the integrity of ecological interactions of that site. Understanding metric sensitivity to external variables is deeply important to restoration ecology and applied land management. If a metric is influenced by changes in sample size, differences among community types, differences between regions, or potential observer bias, then it calls into question the metric’s strength for measuring ecological integrity, specifically the metric’s usefulness when comparing among sites or within a given site through time. I focused on vegetation metrics and their use in applied land management for my thesis. My research is based on vegetation data collected from four regions across the United States over two years, in collaboration with regional botanists, land managers, and land management agencies. In Chapter 2, I used the vegetation data collected across the four regions of the United States to answer two questions regarding commonly used vegetation metrics: 1) Are commonly used vegetation metrics robust, or insensitive to, common environmental variables and methodological choices used in different monitoring regimes, and 2) based on region, what is the adequate sample size for these commonly used vegetation metrics? To be able to adequately compare metrics among all regions, I first needed to create C-values within the study region in New Mexico that lacked those values. In Chapter 3, I collaborated with botanists from New Mexico to develop Coefficients of Conservatism for the Middle Rio Grande region. These values provide an easy and accessible tool for land managers to use when evaluating sites for riparian restorations, or for long term monitoring of previously restored sites. For this study, I compiled a comprehensive floral species list within the Middle Rio Grande floodplain, and assigned Coefficients of Conservatism to 624 of those species.
Issue Date:2020-05-05
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Jess Stern
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-08-26
Date Deposited:2020-05

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