How does spatial variation in soil chemistry affect

spatial patterns in the plant community?

As part of a group of collaborators, mostly at UC Davis, I'm studying the plant (and insect) community at the UC McLaughlin reserve in the central coast range of California. For an overview of what most people in the group are working on,  click here.

Soils derived from serpentine rock are chemically very unusual, and provide habitat for a large number of endemic species and a refuge for many native California plants that have been excluded from richer soils by invasive species. Because serpentine soils are naturally patchy, they made a great model system for studying the effects of habitat fragmentation and patchiness. I've been helping to collect and analyze a rather large data set  that contains information on soil chemistry and plant species in 1m2 quadrats. There are approximately 1000 of these quadrats scattered over a 27.5 ha grid at the McLaughlin reserve, in a nested pattern with samples ranging from 50 meters apart to adjacent m2 quadrats.

Part of the 27.5 hectare "grid" at the McLaughlin reserve. The hilltop at the left is Serpentine rock and soil, as is the ridge just out of view to the right.