1999 Progress Report: Methods for Increasing Biodiversity in Tallgrass Prairie Reconstructions

EPA Grant Number: R825796
Title: Methods for Increasing Biodiversity in Tallgrass Prairie Reconstructions
Investigators: Jurik, Thomas W. , Moloney, Kirk
Institution: Iowa State University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: January 1, 1998 through December 31, 2000 (Extended to September 30, 2001)
Project Period Covered by this Report: January 1, 1998 through December 31, 1999
Project Amount: $243,019
RFA: Ecosystem Restoration (1997) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Hazardous Waste/Remediation , Land and Waste Management , Ecosystems


The prairies of the midwestern United States have largely been destroyed and replaced by agricultural fields. We now are much more aware of the value of the prairie ecosystem as an environmentally stable landscape that provides a variety of environmental, economic, and aesthetic benefits. Thus, there is widespread interest in reconstructing prairie vegetation, both in large tracts and along roadsides. However, many prairie species, particularly species other than grasses (forbs), are relatively difficult to establish from seed, which is usually the only feasible method of planting. This project is investigating methods of increasing plant diversity in prairie reconstructions, with emphases on seeding and management techniques and incorporation of minor disturbances and natural spatial patterns into the reconstruction process.

Progress Summary:

This project is investigating the impact of several factors on species diversity during prairie reconstructions, including: (1) different methods of planting seeds, (2) plant height at mowing (to reduce competition from weeds) during the first three seasons after planting, (3) introduction of minor disturbances at sites for establishment of forb seedlings in grass-dominated areas, and (4) introduction of spatial patterns found in natural prairies. Field studies are in progress at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge?Prairie Learning Center near Prairie City, IA, where reconstruction of an extensive (3500 ha) prairie is ongoing. In 1998, experimental plots were established that were seeded using four different methods. Two sets of mowing treatments, including four treatments each, were applied to each type of seeding treatment over the summer of 1998. These treatments were continued in 1999, and plant diversity was assessed in late summer. To determine the effect of small-scale disturbance on species diversity, mounds of sterilized soil emulating gopher mounds were established in summer and fall of 1998; a second set was established in 1999. Some mounds were seeded with native prairie species in December 1998. Colonization and survival of plants on the mounds, as compared with undisturbed areas, was monitored during summer 1999. Another study investigated the spatial patterns in vegetation of native prairies in 1999. Data analyses for all projects currently are under way.

Future Activities:

Mowing treatments on the seeding/mowing treatment plots will be continued in 2000, and environmental conditions and development of the vegetation will again be assessed. Recruitment on the artificial disturbance mounds will again be monitored in 2000. Spatial patterns of natural prairies will be investigated more completely.

Journal Articles on this Report : 1 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 16 publications 4 publications in selected types All 4 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Jurik TW, Kliebenstein H. Canopy architecture, light extinction and self-shading of a prairie grass, Andropogon gerardii. The American Midland Naturalist 2000;144(1):51-65. R825796 (1999)
R825796 (2000)
R825796 (Final)
  • Abstract: BIOONE Abstract
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    ecosystem, restoration, terrestrial, ecology, Midwest, Iowa, IA, prairie., RFA, Ecosystem Protection, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Midwest, Restoration, Monitoring/Modeling, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Environmental Monitoring, ecological exposure, biodiversity, ecology, diversity, wildlife, regional species diversity, prairie reconstruction, ecosystem effects, Tallgrass Prairie reconstruction, conservation, plant diversity, Iowa (IA), ecological recovery, terrestrial, ecosystem, economic, prairie vegetation

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 1998
  • 2000 Progress Report
  • Final Report