Biodiversity Graduate Student Research Enhancement Grant
Department of Botany
Graduate Advisor: Brent Ewers
Due to increasing heat and drought stress in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), including shifting snow to rain driven systems, vegetation and ecosystem changes are already occurring. Plants that are rare due to a high level of habitat specificity may be forced to make a series of improbable dispersal events spanning many kilometers. With very few plant species expected to be able to keep up with climate change through dispersal alone, conservation of rare plants under climate change requires predictive understanding of what causes these species to be rare, and what kinds of environments they will be able to survive in. With this research, I will explore rare plants’ use of resources to provide insights into their rarity and provide better predictive power for responses to future climate change. My objectives are 1) Determine if GYE rare plants are able to better utilize resources than their common competitors. 2) Determine if rare plants in the GYE have limited distributions due to exploitation of rare, stressful environments. 3) Determine if plant species that are declining due to new pressures (white bark pine) are similar in their utilization of recourses to their competitors.
My research will help lay the groundwork for conservation management strategies that maintain biodiversity and explain why the GYE is home to a variety of plants that grow nowhere else on Earth
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Bridger Huhn working with monitoring equipment.