Land clearing is a common occurrence in Southern California. Cleared hillsides need to be revegetated quickly to preserve topsoil and avoid mud slides in the rainy season. The plants chosen for revegetation and the soil microorganisms present in soils are hugely important in determining the success of plant restoration projects.
At Stunt Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains, a hill side was recently cleared. UCLA researchers are actively restoring this site with native California grassland plants including Stipa pulchra (purple needle grass), the official grass of the State of California. Prior to land clearing, this site was dominated by invasive Eurasian grasses. These grasses modify soil environments and microbial communities to the detriment of native species.
To mitigate the long-term influence of Eurasian grasses on soil communities and native grassland restoration efforts, a subset of the restoration soils will be inoculated with soils collected under native grassland plants collected elsewhere at Stunt. The hypothesis is that native plants will grow faster with the aid of native soil microbial communities. The information gained from this study will help to inform future restoration strategies and improve restoration time frames.