Using evolutionary and functional diversity to plan ecological restoration projects can help us build restorations that establish more quickly, last longer, and require less maintenance.
Ecological restoration is a critical component of conservation. Unfortunately, restored sites often fall short of common restoration goals such as maintenance of biodiversity over time, increased ecosystem function, and resistance to invasion by exotic weeds. The goal of this project is to test whether considering phylogenetic diversity, a measure of biodiversity that takes into account evolutionary history, can advance the ability to restore diverse, highly functional, resilient communities. In this project, we are installing two experimental prairies, one at The Morton Arboretum and one at Prairie Moon Nursery (Winona, MN); analyzing existing restorations as well as remnant prairies; and collaborating with colleagues at Chicago Botanic Garden, NIU, and University of Minnesota to investigate the effects of planted species diversity on restoration outcomes and function of restorations.