Nathan Bickart

Undergraduate Researcher


Research Description

This project builds off of a novel effort to screen native plant species based on functional traits so as to improve the effectiveness of riparian restoration projects. Specifically, the project described here aims to enhance nitrogen uptake in the riparian area surrounding Strawberry Creek, a critical ecosystem service given the Creek’s nitrogen-saturated urban context. We will partner with the Strawberry Creek Restoration Program (SCRP), which has worked extensively to remove invasive non-native species (e.g. ivy) from the natural areas on campus. However, invasive species removal without native plant outplanting raises a concern regarding the creation of a ‘weed-shaped hole’ in the ecosystem that can easily be reinvaded by non-natives. We hope to enhance efforts to prevent reinvasion by invasive non-natives by focusing in on nitrogen, a key water pollutant and an important factor dictating whether plants can invade new systems. We will grow a suite of native plant species in the SCRP nursery and measure functional traits on these individuals, including several root metrics and nitrogen-15 uptake rates. These trait measurements will inform the SCRP’s outplanting efforts by helping to ‘filter-down’ (or screen) the regional species pool to a smaller list of appropriate species. Planting plans will be implemented in the winter of 2012-13, and the planted plots will then be monitored to see if project goals were achieved on the ground.

Research Group(s)

Mailing Address

Dept of Environmental Science, Policy, & Management
UC Berkeley
130 Mulford Hall #3114
Berkeley, CA 94720