Ecology of Renewable Energy

Mojave research rev-01-01-01
The California Solar Initiative has spurred renewable energy development in the Central Valley and Desert regions, with >100,000 hectares of land occupied by energy facilities in planning, permitting, or operational stages. Such facilities increase energy sustainability while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but are not cost-free in terms of ecological impact. Installations profoundly alter the landscape, with permanent structures changing natural light and water regimes in ways that can strongly affect plant communities. These changes are likely to favor some species over others: invasive plants may increase where infrastructure or related disturbance facilitate seed movement or create altered microsite conditions favoring invader success. Design and siting of facilities to minimize negative impact thus requires understanding how altered light and runoff patterns affect belowground seed reserves as well as aboveground life stages for both native and exotic species.

In my work with Dr. Ingrid ParkerDr. Rebecca R. HernandezDr. Kara A. Moore, Dr. Bruce M. Pavlik, and Sophia Haji, I used demographic matrix models to explore the effects of microsite and climatic variability on demographic processes, to ask whether rare, common, and exotic annual species respond differently to these factors, and ultimately assess how response indicates potential for long-term population persistence. We also tested for effects of shade on seed viability and germination rates, incorporating these data into models predicting how microhabitat conditions may drive shifts in population performance and community composition.

Papers published from this work include:

Tanner, KE, Moore‐O’Leary, KA., Parker, IM, Pavlik, BM, & Hernandez, RR. 2020. Simulated solar panels create altered microhabitats in desert landforms. Ecosphere, 11(4), e03089.

Hernandez, R.R.; Tanner, KE; Haji, S.; Parker, IM; Pavlik, B.M.; Moore-O’Leary, KA. 2020. Simulated Photovoltaic Solar Panels Alter the Seed Bank Survival of Two Desert Annual Plant Species. Plants, 9, 1125.

Tanner, KE, KA Moore-O’Leary, S Haji, IM Parker, BM Pavlik, RR Hernandez (in press). Microhabitats associated with solar energy development alter demography of two desert annuals.

I have worked with amazing technicians and consultants on this project. Thanks guys – this work wouldn’t have been possible without you!
sailor banks small  drew  dad