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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Plant species provide vital ecosystem functions for sustainable agriculture, rangeland management and restoration

  • Author(s): Eviner, Valerie
  • Chapin, F. Stuart
  • et al.

Plants respond to and change their environments, actively altering factors such as soil stability, nutrient and water availability, and the distribution of pests and beneficial organisms. By identifying the functions associated with different species and the effects they have on their ecosystems, managers can use plants as tools in agriculture, range management and restoration, since they will be able to choose plants more effectively and anticipate unintended consequences of vegetation changes. Because cover crops have been used in agricultural settings for years, much is known about their functioning and response to environmental conditions and management practices. Much less is known about plants in natural systems, yet this information can be critical to range management and restoration. We compare what is known about grassland plant functions in California by reviewing the extensive research that has been undertaken at the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center.

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