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Conservation and Restoration in Changing Environments (CARICE)

Garden scientists and graduate students have been working on conservation- and restoration-related research in the arid regions of the western United States since 2002. Much of the native habitat in the western United States is degraded as a result of changes imposed by invasive species, altered fire regimes and land use patterns, and a shifting climate.  These changes will only become more prevalent in the future.  To ensure the region’s unique plant and animal diversity—and that the ecosystem services it provides is resilient in the face of these changes—restoration on a large scale is needed.  To help make restoration efforts as efficient and effective as possible, we conduct research to inform native plant materials development and restoration.  Most of our work currently occurs on the Colorado Plateau.  In 2016, we collected seed and utilized available Seeds of Success collections to establish research trials in the greenhouses and growth chambers at the Garden, continued compiling data from multiple sources on historical use of species and seed sources for restoration, including post-restoration monitoring data to assess outcomes, and continue to monitor long-term study plots in Utah and Colorado in order to: 1)  identify and help develop appropriate native plant material for restoration that is focused on potential ‘native winner’ species that may improve restoration outcomes in degraded sites, and 2) quantify how species and seed source selection impacts ecosystem function in restored habitats.  We use a range of ecological and evolutionary tools and approaches to carry out this research, and we work with the Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program and other partners across the country to ensure our research helps address high-priority restoration needs (Kramer, Skogen, Foxx, Seglias, Havens, and outside collaborators).

colorado plateau