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Research in Vegetation Cover Change and Invasive Woody Species

Vegetation cover in NE's riparian areas and grasslands and the resulting ecosystem processes are changing at an unprecedented rate, this change is attributed in part to encroachment of the native woody species Juniperus virginiana or eastern redcedar into these areas.Climate variability and change, and changes in disturbance regimes and anthropogenic management have been in part responsible for encroachment of eastern redcedar and for vegetation shifts. Eastern redcedar encroachment has impacted biodiversity, plant species distribution and composition, ecosystem and livestock production, nutrient cycling, and system ecohydrology. Dr. Tala Awada and her team use plant phenotyping, ecophysiological and dendroecological techniques to investigate impacts of this change on resource availability and microclimate and their feedback on key plant-soil processes and plants performance.