Home > Faculty & Researchers >del Moral
Phone: 206 543 6341
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Dr. del Moral has studied and described vegetation structure in forests, prairies, wetlands and meadows throughout Washington. His approach is to test a priori hypotheses rather than merely describing communities. He has studied factors that control community structure in stable communities, but since 1980, his work has centered on primary succession and its relationship to restoration. Most of this work has explored the mechanisms of vegetation recovery on Mount St. Helens, but he has conducted research on several other volcanoes. A series of papers have combined long-term plot records, focused field experiments and laboratory trials to explore mechanisms of primary succession. Recently, the 50th paper on primary succession produced in his lab was published.
Several bits of "conventional wisdom" have been modified or shown to be simplistic. Stochastic processes are very important during early succession and landscape effects, more than any other factor, dictate the nature of early species assemblages. In contrast to prevailing theory, abiotic amelioration is much more important that biotic facilitation, physical safe-sites are initially more important than are nurse plant effects, refugia contribute little to the development of their surroundings and mycorrhizae play a very limited role during early volcanic succession. His studies in Japan and the Russian Far East have shown that similar processes have controlled succession on volcanoes in these regions. In Sicily, working on Mount Etna, he has found that there has been little vegetation convergence on lavas during nine centuries. With Lars Walker of UNLV, he completed a book on the current concepts of primary succession that summarizes the historical and developing concepts surrounding how landscapes are recolonized after devastating disturbances. Widely recognized as a major synthesis of the state of knowledge in primary succession, the book has won praise from ecologists and restorationists alike. Current projects include collaborations with ecologists in Australia, Holland, Italy and several in the United States.
del Moral, R. & I. L. Lacher. 2005. Vegetation patterns 25 years after the eruption of Mount St. Helens, Washington. American Journal of Botany 92: 1948-1956.
del Moral, R. & L.R. Rozzell. 2005. Long-term effects of Lupinus lepidus on vegetations dynamics at Mount St Helens. Plant Ecology 181: 203-215.
del Moral, R., D.M. Wood, J.H. Titus. 2005. Proximity, microsites, and biotic interactions during early succession & ecological responses to the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. (V. H. Dale, F. Swanson & C. Crisafulli, eds). Springer-Verlag, pp 93-110.
del Moral, R. & A. J. Eckert. 2005. Colonization of volcanic deserts from productive patches. American Journal of Botany 92:27-36.
Davis, Mark, Jan Pergl, Anne-Marie Truscot, Jan Bakker, Karel Prach, Anne-Helene Prieur-Richard, Roos Veeneklaas, Petr Pysek, R. del Moral, Richard Hobbs, Scott Collins & S. T. A. Pickett. 2004. Vegetation change: a reunifying concept in plant ecology. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Systematics and Evolution 7: 69-76.
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