Student Research

Long-term Vegetation Change in the Voorhis Ecological Reserve

Coastal Sage Scrub (CSS) is an endangered plant community found in Southern California with a high value for conservation. Remnant CSS ecosystems are expected to undergo future changes in response to human impacts such as invasion, climate change, and development. By examining longterm changes in vegetation patterns, we may be able to predict how future human impacts may contribute to further change. Here, we compare the current patterns of vegetation in the Voorhis Ecologcial Reserve, a remnant CSS ecosystem at Cal Poly, Pomona, to previous data collected from 1987-1993 by Dr, Curtis Clark and colleagues. We will test how fire, drought, and invasion contribute to changes in the plant community. Determining how, and why, vegetation in the Voorhis may have changed can shed light on how other CSS communities may have changed, or are likely to change. The existing data set will be expanded to include species native status (native, non-native) and growth-form conforming to the Jepson Manual II (TJM2). With this expanded data set, univariate and multivariate statistical techniques will be used to determine whether, and which, vegetation characteristics have significantly changed. These vegetation characteristics include, species richness, species evenness, native status, and dominant growth-forms. It is expected that Voorhis vegetation has indeed changed, and that fire, drought, and invasion are related to this change. Determining how, and why, vegetation in the Voorhis may have changed can shed light on how other CSS communities may have changed, or are likely to change in the future.

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