Research

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Control of Invasive Ruellia simplex

Ruellia simplex, a popular ornamental in the southern United States, has escaped cultivation and is invading ecosystems in nine states, including Florida. The project aims to evaluate the potential for control of Ruellia simplex with glyphosate applications. Additionally, we are assessing the plant composition of the seedbank and the potential for recolonization of the native plant community. The goals of this study are to explore revegetation approaches (natural recolonization and active revegetation of aggressive native species) for native plant establishment, and R. simplex invasion limitation. This study is being conducted in the Lake Jesup Conservation Area, managed by the St. Johns River Water Management District.

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Potential Contribution of the Seed Bank to Restoration

Alteration in disturbance regimes leads to deterioration in wetland function and community structure. In the Big Cypress Swamp in southwest Florida, changes in fire and hydrologic regime have altered plant communities in freshwater marl prairie ponds. The goal of this research is to investigate the potential for the on-site seed bank to restoration of the target plant community, given return of the hydrologic regime to this area.

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Establishment of Plant Communities in Altered Environments

Barriers to native plant establishment include invasive species, altered biotic and abiotic site characteristics, and propagule limitation. The goal of this research is to determine efficient and ecologically-sound techniques for revegetation of native plant community diversity and function. Current study sites are located in north and south Florida.

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Adaptive Management and Invasive Species

Developing effective approaches for managing invasive species can likely be advanced through an adaptive management (AM) framework, i.e., one where management decisions are improved over time because they are based on an enhanced understanding of the system gleaned from periodic monitoring, structured experimentation and modeling. A current project focuses on the control of reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea ) and for the recovery of these impacted ecosystems after its removal.

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Establishment of Roadside Native Plant Communities

Roadsides comprise a significant acreage of public land. Although much support has been generated for increasing the conservation value of roadsides, techniques for roadside establishment of many native plant communities have not be researched. This highly disturbed environment presents an arena to answer interesting ecological questions regarding weed competition, plant-soil interactions, and vegetation community structure.

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Plant Restoration and Conservation Horticulture Research Consortium

This consortium researches the applications of horticultural technologies to conserve and restore plant diversity in ecosystems. Our mission is to provide research-based information for the successful conservation and restoration of plant diversity in ecosystems throughout Florida and surrounding regions. Our focus is on planting establishment of native species, as well as macro- and micro-propagation and germplasm conservation.