Looking at improving the drought resilience of California rangelands may require some nontraditional approaches. As drought has impacted nearly all of the six million acres of rangeland in California, improving drought resilience becomes even more critical. A grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is helping researchers evaluate different strategies to restore rangelands and make them more drought tolerant. Associate professor of ecology in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, Jennifer Funk explained the project will encompass a variety of approaches.
“That might mean taking populations of some species that we know we want to include maybe from Southern California where those genotypes, those plants down there, have been exposed to hotter, drier conditions. And we take those and bring them up to Northern California for example,” said Funk. “Or it might be, actually thinking a little bit more outside the box and including some species that historically haven’t been a part of rangelands and saying, ‘well these species are really drought tolerant. Livestock tolerate them. Or maybe they add fertility to the soil but they’re also drought tolerant so they have some other ecological benefit in a rangeland system.’”
Listen to the radio report below.