Cal Poly Pomona is part of a $1.4 million grant from the Department of Defense¿s Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) to help save threatened plants. The project will identify areas within dry ecosystems in Southern California and Hawaii that have potential for ecological restoration.
The research team includes Cal Poly Pomona Professor Erin Questad, along with researchers from the University of Maryland and the USDA Forest Service.
The team has developed topographic models that determine the livability of habitats for threatened, endangered, and at-risk plant species. It plans to build a model that can find suitable habitats for plant growth around the world to begin restoration efforts.
Researchers are currently working in Hawaii at the Pohakuloa training area and Puu Waa Waa, an experimental tropical forest on Kona, as well as Vandenburg Air Force Base.
¿One of our goals is to develop a prototype and software extension for others to use in the future,¿ says Questad, assistant professor in the biological sciences department. ¿We¿re trying to make this more accessible so that anyone in the world can use it.¿
The four-year project will first develop habitat survivability models and then test plant survival rates.
¿Overcoming barriers to plant restoration in dry environments is especially critical for threatened and endangered species management. In Hawaii alone, the DoD spends nearly $10 million annually on environmental programs to protect these species and their associated critical habitat,¿ says Susan Cordell, USDA Forest Service research ecologist.
¿Outside of Hawaii, the top 10 DoD installations in the U.S. with the greatest number of federally listed species occur in dry ecosystems. This work could potentially re‐define the way conservation-related land management agencies in dry ecosystems manage their restoration programs by providing a set of quantitatively based and spatially explicit tools to ensure effective and compliant land use management for species recovery.¿