• 1000Minds;
  • conjoint-analysis;
  • grassland;
  • grassy woodland;
  • plant functional trait


We used a conjoint analysis to reveal the preferences of experts with respect to plant attributes under three different restoration scenarios (high-level conservation, functional native vegetation, perennial native pasture) and to generate prioritized lists for restoration of grassy woodland species. Nineteen experts participated in the conjoint analysis. The sample comprised researchers and practitioners with local knowledge of grassy ecosystems. The survey involved repeated pairwise ranking of the relevance of attributes of seven ecological criteria. The relative weightings of the attributes were then used to generate the 50 top-ranked species for each of the three scenarios. Overall phosphorus tolerance was considered the most important criterion, followed by grazing tolerance. Species favoured for high-level conservation management included nutrient- and grazing-intolerant plants with narrower distributions and some species of threatened status. The two scenarios with histories of fertilization and varying levels of ongoing grazing were most similar in that their lists were dominated by graminoids and did not contain any shrubs or geophytes. The ranking of species provides an initial list that could be tailored to take into account specific site conditions and additional knowledge of species. This approach to the selection of species shows promise as either a repeatable process to select species for particular sites, or to generate a classification of species that could be used generically for a small number of common situations.