Prairie Restoration

Prairie Restoration

Prairie Restoration ENTS 110 Final Presentation Ben Lum Akiko Nakano Sarah Tegtmeier Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam, Where the deer and the antelope play. Where seldom is heard a discouraging word And the skies are not cloudy all day. Dr. Brewster Higley (1873)

What is a Prairie? Open grassland Few woody plants, such as trees and bushes Dry climate with low precipitation Supports a variety of birds, mammals, and insects. Vary due to the types and densities of plants and the types of soils.

What are the benefits of prairie restoration? Maintains a diversity of plants and animals Protects ecosystems and ecological communities Improves water quality and reduces erosion Promotes beautiful, natural landscapes Creates healthier, sustainable land uses

Promotes education about the natural heritage and a desire to protect and restore the earths natural resources If even one-tenth of the lawns in a community were replaced by prairie plantings, there would be a sizeable reduction in the use of water, fertilizers,and chemical pesticides and in the fuel consumption, noise, and air pollution associated with power mowers. Virginia M. Kline, Society for Ecologic

Restoration, 1997 Prairie restoration at a local level: The Carleton Cowling Arboretum Originally, the local landscape consisted of oak savanna, tallgrass prairie, and deciduous forest. From the mid 19th century to the 1930s, the arboretum was used for agriculture. Since then, there has been a slow increase in rebuilding the natural habitats. In 1950, the college began plantings to restore native species. In the late 1970s, plantings began taking off, and restoration is still underway. In the future the

college hopes to completely restore the arboretum with about 2/3 forest and 1/3 prairie. Outline of our research

Plants Mammals and birds Insects Controlled burning Grazing Invasive species Policy recommendations Prairie Plants Primary producers are important to the ecosystem Variety of wildflowers and warm-season grasses (big bluestem, little bluestem, switchgrass, indian

grass, rattlesnake master, and compass plant) Natural limiting factors include precipitation, soil type, fire, and grazing Promote health and shape species diversity Mammals and Birds Wide variety of mammal species ranging from the large plain buffalo to the small mice, voles and shrews Birds also have a large diversity of ground dwelling birds, song birds and raptors. Our study looks at the impact of the bison

(a grazer) and the raptors (a predator). Bison Historical range of the bison covered much of North America. The buffalo resemble forests of cedar, and present a low, black, and undefined appearance, but occasionally shifting to and fro like the dark shadows of a cloud . . . (J. McBride 1850) Last wild bison in Minnesota was seen in 1880 Most important mammal on the prairie due to their impact

and numbers In the past, one herd would graze intensively in one area, consuming nearly all the vegetation, trampling the rest and then moving on, maybe not to return for several years Raptors Raptors important predators Many species go across several habitats: live in the forest but hunt in the prairie. Summer residents include the northern harrier, common nighthawk, turkey vulture, swainsons hawk and he barn owl. Winter residents include the northern harrier, rough-legged

hawk, golden eagles, the barn owl. Raptors that use the prairie for migratory routes are the merlin, peregrine falcon, prairie falcon, and the short-eared owl. Insects Aid in the production of fruits, seeds, vegetables, and flowers by pollination. Bodies of insects serve as food for many animals that are valuable to us. Many insects destroy other injurious insects. Improve physical condition of the soil and promote its fertility.

Act as scavengers Fire Originally, lightning has set fires that burn naturally. Upon the settlement of Native Americans, many fires were started for a variety of reasons. Anthropogenic fires improved game habitat, increased berry and nut production, and made travel easier. Due to the dangers of fire to modern human communities, natural fires are extinguished, and there are very few controlled burns.

The benefits of fires in the prairies Increases net primary production Promotes species diversity Prevents the invasion of trees, woody plants, and cold-season grasses Removes standing dead vegetation and litter, encouraging natural decomposition Increases soil nutrient availability Attracts animals and microorganisms that symbiotically promote tallgrass growth.

Healthy burns in the arboretum Burns over large areas Rotation of a 4-year burn schedule Adjacent to areas not burned in the last 2 years Seasonal rotation of burns Benefits of prairie grazing Promotes species diversity Increases light availability to plants, promoting photosynthesis and growth Can change species composition

Decreases woody plant growth while promoting grazing-tolerant plants. Disadvantages of large grazers in the Arboretum

Interferes with human usage Difficult to rotate grazing areas Maintenance cost of large grazers Cattle are not as effective grazers as bison Mowing is an easier alternative Invasive Species Non-native plants can overrun natural tallgrass prairies Spraying Handweeding Grazers can import invasive seeds

Burning: Policy At least every 4 years Rotating seasons and unit location Adjacent to plots unburned in at least the last 2 years Grazing: Cattle instead of bison Rotation of intensive grazing

Invasive species Minimal spraying Aggressive handweeding Future Research Change in species from natural sources

Effects of mowing versus fires or grazing The Arbs ability to support top carnivores Insects: Monitoring species and their effects on the ecosystem Self-introduction from nearby prairie remnants Trial introductions of species native to prairies Effects of non-native species on prairies

References Anderson, R.C., and Menges, E. S. 1997. Effects of Fire on Sandhill Herbs: Nutrients, Mycorrhizae, and Biomass Allocation. American Journal of Botany, 84: 938-948. Baldwin, A. et al. 1994. Beyond Preservation. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Berger, Joel and Carol Cunningham. 1994. Bison: Mating and Conservation in Small Populations. New York: Columbia University Press. Collins, S. L., et al. 1998. Modulation of Diversity by Grazing and Mowing in Native Tallgrass Prairie. Science, 280: 745-747.

Danz, H. 1997. Of Bison and Men. Niwot, CO: University Press of Colorado. Harker, D., et al. 1999. Landscape Restoration Handbook. New York: Lewis Publishers. Hobbs, N. T., et al. 1991. Fire and Grazing in the Tallgrass Prairie: Contingent Effects on Nitrogen Budgets. Ecology 72: 1374-1382. Howe, Henry F. 1995. Succession and Fire Season in Experimental Prairie Plantings. Ecology 76: 1917-1925. Jordan, W., et al. 1987. Restoration Ecology. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Metcalf, R. L. and R. A. Metcalf. 1993. Destructive and Useful Insects. New York: McGraw-Hill Inc. Packard, S. and C. F. Mutel. 1997. Tallgrass Restoration Handbook. Washington, D. C.: Island Press. Samson, F. B. and F. I. Knopf. 1996. Prairie Conservation. Washington, D. C.: Island Press. Samson, F. B. and F. I. Knopf. 1996. Prairie Conservation. Washington, D. C.: Island Press. Tester, J. R. 1995. Minnesotas Natural Heritage. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Zimmerman, J. L. 1993. The Birds of Konza. Lawrence, KS:

University Press of Kansas. Personal Communications Bake, Myles. Personal Communication, 11/10/99. Hougen-Eitzman, David. Personal Communication, 11/8/99. Umbanhowar, Charles E. Personal Communication, 11/14/99. Wagenbach, Gary. Personal Communication, 10/28/99 and 11/11/99. Internet Sources Carleton College Cowling Arboretum. Http://

Iowa Prairie Network Homepage. Http:// Minnesota Native Plant Society. Prairie Restoration, Inc. Http:// Tallgrass Prairie in Illinois (Illinois Natural History Survey). Http:// University of Wisconsin Arboretum Homepage. Http:// Where the Buffalo Roam (Fermilab).

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