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Understanding the Maintenance of Species Diversity in Western Montana Grasslands
January 24 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pmsuggested donation, MNHC members free
John Maron, professor in the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Montana will present a fascinating lecture describing his recent research in the Blackfoot Valley.
Intact grasslands in western Montana support a rich diversity of native plant species. A long-standing question in ecology concerns how this diversity is maintained. If species differ in their competitive abilities, the superior competitor should drive all other inferior competitors to local extinction. Even if all species have equal competitive abilities, those species that produce abundant seeds should in theory become much more common than species that produce fewer seeds. Yet despite differences in competitive ability and seed production among co-occurring grassland plants, our grasslands are diverse and relatively equally represented by species that differ in these characteristics. Thus what mechanisms maintain grassland plant diversity? In this talk I will discuss some of the natural history of grasslands in our region, and summarize the research we are conducting in the Blackfoot Valley that is attempting to answer the conundrum of species coexistence.