Plant ecologist awarded NSF grant for restoring the culturally important Emory oak

Assistant professor Sara Souther of Northern Arizona University’s School of Earth and Sustainability (SES) is principal investigator on a major new project focused on restoring a tree species important to the cultural heritage of tribal communities in the Southwest.

Acorns from the Emory oak tree are a critically important resource for the Western Apache Tribal Nations—including the Yavapai-Apache, Tonto Apache, San Carlos Apache and White Mountain Apache Tribal Nations in east and central Arizona—who use it both for food and for cultural and ceremonial purposes. Groves of Emory oak have been declining in health and yielding fewer acorns with each harvest for several decades due to loss of habitat, fire suppression, livestock grazing, groundwater reductions, species competition and climate change.

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