My current research focuses adaptive management strategies that support restoration toward improving the resiliency and function of ecosystems. Specific research includes (1) assessing assisted migration as a potential adaptation to climate change; (2) helping land managers initiate functional restoration on their landscapes; (3) evaluating biochar, the by-product of converting woody biomass to bioenergy, as an amendment to substrates used to grow native plants; (4) understanding carbon and nitrogen pools under different land management scenarios; and (5) completion of volume 2 of Agriculture Handbook 730.
I'm also Director the Western Center for Native Plant Conservation and Restoration Science, a collaboration of scientists in the Pacific Northwest, Pacific Southwest, and Rocky Mountain research stations working in these fields.
My research interests include all aspects of propagating and outplanting native plants. From the nursery perspective, my research includes nursery production systems, specifically propagation, plant-disease interactions, plant nutrition, and water management. From the outplanting perspective, my research includes assisted migration as a management adaptation to climate change and functional restoration of plant communities.
View my video profile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZ3w60gcoBo&list=PLNsZX2SBTlVmV1MpNisJ4NdNpsV9Hulrj&index=20
My past research solved many complex nursery management and establishment problems faced by nursery managers and land managers throughout the world. Templates I devised for plant propagation protocols are routinely followed in the Native Plants Journal and on the Native Plant Network. I have provided nursery managers with techniques for propagating native plants. I defined new methods to avoid or mitigate pitfalls of confounding factors in nursery research and in deploying stocktype trials. My plant–disease relationship work with Fusarium root disease led to new best management plans (BMPs) for mitigating disease; key to those BMPs was development of a container-cleaning protocol used worldwide. My finding that the fungus Fusarium commune, rather than Fusarium oxysporum, is the more virulent pathogen has markedly changed the paradigm of future research endeavors concerning this nursery pathogen. I provided nursery managers with creative, science-based methods to improve nutrient and water management and was the first to demonstrate the scope of the problem of errant discharge of nutrients from container nurseries producing native plants. I did this by devising techniques to measure leachate and irrigation system spray patterns and subsequently developed fertilization and irrigation techniques that nursery managers are using to mitigate the problem. I have synthesized and delivered my personal research, along with that of other scientists, and subsequently provided nursery managers and field restorationists holistic tools; my Agriculture Handbook 674, Volume 7 is being translated into Spanish and Chinese, and my Afghan nursery manual was translated into Dari. To improve science delivery, I initiated a new journal that prints both refereed research and general technical articles to encourage "cross pollination" among researchers and field professionals. My Internet database, and the 2500+ native plant propagation protocols in it, was accessed more than 32,000 times during 2010.
In the US, more than 1200 native plant nurseries, operated by federal, tribal, state, private, and not-for-profit entitiies, annually produce more than a billion seedlings for reforestation and restoration. Ensuring seedlings are produced efficiently and with high quality reduces costs and improves seedling performance (survival and growth) after outplanting. The end result is that restoration work to maintain ecosystem function is done in the most efficient and economic ways possible. In addition, my research with assisted migration and functional restoration will help ensure that appropriate plant materials, in terms of adaptation, are applied to the landscape.