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NWRC Coastal Prairie Research Program

Studies of Plant Diversity

A key objective of prairie management has to do with the long-term preservation of native plant diversity. At present, there are an inadequate understanding of how diversity is regulated in nature, which ultimately limits our ability to give sound advice to land managers and policy makers. It has been noted that there exist over 100 hypotheses about the factors that regulate species diversity. Many of these hypotheses are vague, repetitive, and contradictory. Furthermore, nearly all deal with only one or two ecological factors and are only able to make very general predictions that are not typically useful in making management decisions. To remedy this situation, the USGS has conducted an extensive set of integrated theoretical and empirical studies designed to develop the underpinnings of a system that will ultimately be used to predict the effects of environmental changes and management decisions on plant diversity. Information on these findings can be found in the following articles:

  • Gough, L., J.B. Grace, and K.L. Taylor. 1994. The relationship between species richness and community biomass: the importance of environmental variables. Oikos 70:271-279.

  • Grace, J.B. 1995. In search of the holy grail: explanations for the coexistence of plant species.Trends in Ecology and Evolution 10:263-264.

  • Marrs, R., J.B. Grace, and L. Gough. 1996. On the relationship between plant species diversity and biomass: a comment on a paper by Gough, Grace, and Taylor. Oikos. 75:323-326.

  • Grace, J.B. and B. Pugesek.1997. A structural equation model of plant species richness and its application to a coastal wetland. American Naturalist 149:436-460.

  • Gough, L. and J.B. Grace. 1997. The influence of vines on an oligohaline marsh community: results of a removal and fertilization study. Oecologia 112:403-411.

  • Gough, L. and J.B. Grace. 1998. Herbivore effects on plant species density at varying productivity levels. Ecology 79:1586-1594.

  • Gough, L. and J.B. Grace. 1998. Effects of flooding, salinity, and herbivory on coastal plant communities, Louisiana, United States. Oecologia 117:527-535.

  • Grace, J.B. 1999. The factors controlling species density in herbaceous plant communities: an assessment. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 2:1-28.

  • Grace, J.B. and H. Jutila. 1999. The relationship between species density and community biomass in grazed and ungrazed coastal meadows. Oikos 85:398-408.

  • Grace, J.B. and G.R. Guntenspergen. 1999. The effects of landscape position on plant species density: evidence of past environmental effects in a coastal wetland. Ecoscience 6:381-391.

  • Gough, L. and J.B. Grace. 1999. Predicting effects of environmental change on plant species density: experimental evaluations in a coastal wetland. Ecology 80:882-890.

  • Grace, J.B., L. Allain, and C. Allen. 2000. Factors associated with plant species richness in a coastal tall-grass prairie. Journal of Vegetation Science 11:443-452.

  • Grace, J.B. 2001. The roles of community biomass and species pools in the regulation of plant diversity. Oikos 92:191-207.

  • Grace, J.B. 2001. Difficulties with estimating and interpreting species pools and the implications for understanding patterns of diversity. Folia Geobotanica 36:71-83.

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