Driftless Prairies: Native Habitat Restoration

Nature inspires awe!

Research Papers

I am always on the hunt for good research and often it takes copious amounts of time to find those. As I discover interesting ones, I will share them on my site.

Insect-related Papers

Ron Panzer is the first, to my knowledge, to publish a paper on how prescribed burning affects insects. Compatibility of Prescribed Burning with the Conservation of Insects in Small, Isolated Prairies Reserves

Milkweeds, Not just for Monarchs — This article was published in the Spring 2011 Xerces Society newsletter. It’s packed with good information about the milkweed plants.

Overwintering insects has been an interest of mine, especially when understanding how fall and spring prescribed burns affect them. Fauna overwintering In or On Stems of Wisconsin Prairies Forbs is a great paper demonstrating the various insect species affected by burns.

Diversity in a prairie cannot be limited to plants only. Understanding how insects are affected by the various prairie management tools is critical to responsible stewardship. Arthropod Fauna Using Marbleseed in Wisconsin demonstrated the importance of 1 single plant to a multitude of insects.

Plants and insects interact and evolve based on those interactions. Diversification at the Insect-Plant Interface talks about how they have evolved together.

This paper, Characterizing Insects with Fragmented Landscapes, explains and defines the various terms describing insects and animals and their interaction with plants.

Silphium Gall Wasps Little-known Prairie Specialists, Rich Henderson, 2011 discusses the Silphium Gall Wasps, which are host dependent upon Silphium spp. Five species were originally described in 1891 then ignored until 1991. New research shows there could be up to 7 species. As the study states, “It gives one hope that recovery and restoration of the [prairie] system are still possible.” You cannot imagine my excitement at discovering one of these wasps in our prairie!

Gall Wasps (Cynipidae spp) are considered to be the “most vulnerable” insect to fire and risk local extinction with annual burns. This is important knowledge when creating management plans. Gall Wasps Mortality in a Spring Tallgrass Prairie Fire, Fay & Samenus

Plant-related Papers

Sweet clover is an invasive species that plagues many prairies. There are numerous ways to remove it, this paper talks about how burns can be used as a management tool.  Burning a Protected Tallgrass Prairie to Suppress Sweetclover

Setting goals in a living system that requires consideration to be given to a host of entities that comprise that system is not simple, nor easy. Often ecological restoration goals are set to mimic pre-settlement (early 1800s) conditions. This is near impossible since there is no explicit records of what those conditions were. This paper discusses this issue. Determing Appropriate Goals for Restoration of Imperilled Communities and Species

Preserving the local genotype is a real concern of restorationists. The problem is that there is no historical genetic data from existing prairies in the 1800s and none before the fragmentation began. Conservation genetics of two co-dominant grass species in an endangered grassland ecosystem

Restorationists have long believed that preserving local genotype was imperative. I think there’s been confusion about the definition of local genotype and the genetic diversity of restorations and remnants (small or large) as well as the genetic integrity of restored areas. This is the first empirical study that speaks to this issue. Genetic Diversity and Competitive Abilities of Dalea Purpurea From Remnant and Restored Grasslands

When I was first learning about prairies, I was introduced to The Plants of the Chicago Region and was told is was an important work because it listed the companion plants of each prairie plant. My curiosity was piqued. Why are companion plants important? Interactions Among Plants and Evolution is an excellent literature distillation regarding this issue. Not only do insects create plant evolution, so do nearby plants!