Associate Scientist in Conservation Biology
Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development
Vegetation recovery in slash-pile scars following restoration of an Ozark woodland. Albrecht is an associate scientist in the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development; his research interests include restoration ecology and conservation of rare species. At MBG’s Shaw Nature Reserve, efforts are underway to restore degraded woodlands by removing exotic shrubs and vines, thinning fire-intolerant trees from the canopy, and reestablishing historical fire regimes. As is common practice when restoring degraded woodlands, woody debris generated from canopy thinning is piled and burned in discrete locations throughout the restored area. However, intense and prolonged heat generated from pile burning results in mortality of seeds and root systems of plants, loss of soil microbes, and alteration of soil nutrients and moisture availability. Determining the recovery rate of the native plant community and whether slash pile scars serve as foci for the re-establishment and spread of exotic invasive plants is an important management concern. The goals of this study are to assess the recovery of vegetation and soils in slash-pile scars and to experimentally test whether restoration can be accelerated in the first-growing season via seeding native plant species and removing ash. The REU student will monitor the establishment, survival, and growth of native and exotic species experimentally seeded into slash-pile scars and help monitor vegetation and environmental variables (soil nutrients and moisture, light-availability, etc.) in permanent plots located in slash-pile scars and adjacent non-scarred areas. The student should have the physical and mental ability to work outdoors in Midwestern summer weather, and an interest in the management and restoration of native plant communities.