To figure out how best to do reconciliation ecology in Tucson, Rosenzweig and his colleagues are focusing on the 300-some species of native plants found on Tumamoc Hill, an 870-acre, century-old ecological reservation in central Tucson.
By developing ecologically reasonable subsets of the 300-some native plants on Tumamoc Hill, the researchers will be able to suggest groups of 12 to 40 species for people to plant on their land.
To create subsets of species that will coexist readily in a backyard or neighborhood, the team made a database that describes characteristics of each plant species.
In addition to using ecological characteristics of the plants, the database includes plant traits important to people as they design landscapes to live with. Those characteristics include whether the plant is thorny, whether it flowers in the spring or summer or fall, and how large it will become.
The team also programmed a variety of computer instructions to select a set of native plants that might live together successfully and have qualities people desire, such being thornless or having showy flowers in the spring.
The researchers have dubbed one of those instructions "The Belle of the Ball," because it can highlight a particular species and provide a list of the native plants that would be compatible with conserving that special species.
The Belle of the Ball algorithm would help people use their house or neighborhood to protect a rare plant, such as the Tumamoc globeberry vine, known to scientists as Tumamoca macdougalli. The vine, first discovered on Tumamoc Hill, generally needs shrubs to climb into and has only been found in deserts in southern Arizona and the Mexican state of Sonora.
Rosenzweig will enlist Tucson residents through their neighborhood associations. The residents will be actively involved, because only with their participation will it be possible to conduct a large-scale t
|Contact: Jennifer Fitzenberger|
University of Arizona