A major challenge to advancing the science and practice of ecological restoration is working across large landscapes containing diverse sites that may respond differently to restoration. We conducted a 5-year restoration experiment, replicated across 9 sites spanning 3 soil parent material types within a 9,000-ha Pinus ponderosa forest landscape. We evaluated plant community response to restoration Pinus thinning, grazing, and aqueous smoke application. We measured vegetation before (2003) and 3 (2006) and 5 (2008) years after treatment. Plant community responses of species richness, cover, and composition were diverse, ranging from increases, decreases, or no change depending on soil parent material, tree thinning, and presence or exclusion of grazing. Restoration outcomes were under hierarchical control: soil parent material constrained response to Pinus thinning, which in turn influenced grazing effects. On limestone-derived soil, responses included no change in species richness but increased plant cover with Pinus thinning. Both plant richness and cover increased on benmorite soil after thinning, and cover generally increased more without grazing. On rocky, basalt soil, plant richness increased but cover did not after any treatment. Diversity of responses to restoration has implications for: (1) setting goals or monitoring indicators tailored to inherent soil capability; (2) identifying where grazing most affects restoration outcomes; and (3) forecasting responses to restoration across landscapes. Diverse responses to restoration along physiographic gradients such as soil parent material warrant consideration when developing restoration across degraded landscapes.
- Environmental gradient
- Parent material
- Pinus ponderosa forest
- Tree thinning
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation