© U.S. Bureau of Land Management (Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program)

CPNPP Research Program

The Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program (CPNPP) was established, in part, to evaluate and develop lines of important grass and forb species adapted to the unique ecological conditions of the Colorado Plateau. A key goal of the CPNPP research program is to characterize intraspecific diversity of dominant species to ensure that plant materials used in restoration are adapted to sites at which they are deployed and are demographically resilient to interannual variance in environmental conditions, anthropogenic disturbance, and climate change trends. The CPNPP has a growing research program that includes US Geologic Survey and US Forest Service researchers. While the position of science lead for the CPNPP is presently unfilled, research has focused on two areas: 1) marker-based population genetic studies; and 2) common garden studies. 

CPNPP Native Plant Project Repository

The Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program, through its partnership with the US Geologic Survey, has developed a repository of research that is relevant to Colorado Plateau native plant materials and restoration. This is housed on the http://cpnpp.conservationregistry.org/ and is designed to provide information of value to land managers, researchers, and restoration practitioners.  One can browse the repository by viewing mapped project locations or by entering keywords, or through the use of simple and advanced search options.  

Population Genetic Studies 

USGS and partners are currently conducting population genetic studies on four Colorado Plateau species. In cooperation with the National Park Service (NPS), the group is using genetic markers to evaluate the spatial scale of genetic differentiation in Indian ricegrass (Achnatherum hymenoides), sand dropseed (Sporobolus cryptandrus), and smallflower globemallow (Sphaeralcea parvifolia) collected from locations across Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and adjacent BLM lands in southeastern Utah. The NPS is ultimately interested in using these species to restore degraded grasslands within the parks.

In a larger-scale study, the USGS is genotyping populations of blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis) drawn from across the Colorado Plateau. Sampling is focused to evaluate the impact of the precipitation timing and elevation, both of which vary strongly across the Plateau. In addition, population sampling of the forbs scarlet gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata) and showy goldeneye (Heliomeris multiflora) is underway.

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