Vegetation Surveys in Southern Minnesota Prairies: Management, Invasive Species and Future Directions
This paper is formatted into two chapters: a general introduction on prairies, management, and this study (Chapter 1), and the study formatted for submission to a journal for publication (Chapter 2). To manage habitat loss in Southern Minnesota prairies, and subsequent ecological damage, private and public individuals have responded with restoration. This study investigated the use of an accepted vegetation monitoring tool to survey prairies (N=31) in Southern Minnesota during June/July (2019), targeting peak growing season to see whether restored prairies had lower invasive species richness, and relatively greater native richness. We hypothesized that restored prairies would have higher species richness, fewer invasive species and lower phylogenetic diversity. A subset (N=11) were then re-surveyed in August (2019). We found that composite invasive species abundance score (CISA) did not vary significantly between restored and remnant prairies, but percent natural vegetation (%PNV) was significantly higher on restored prairie sites. Interestingly, we found a significant increase in species richness between June/July and August – further supported by a significant difference in %PNV for the two sampling periods, where more native species, and a higher %PNV score, were found in August. We found that management strategies (categorized in three groups: fire, mechanical, and chemical) did not vary significantly between restorations and remnants: neither management type, nor frequency, were significantly different. However, we did find some species-specific effects, as Melilotus officinalis coverage percentages increased significantly with increasing site area; Berteroa incana coverage percentages decreased significantly with increased species richness; and Melilotus alba coverage percentages increased significantly the longer a site had gone without mechanical management, and chemical management. We found that restored prairies scored significantly higher in three Nature Conservancy metrics: Landscape Diversity, Resilience, and Local Connectedness. Moreover, our phylogeny, consisting of 374 species, led to significant results as well. Significantly, we found increasing prescribed burn frequency led to increases in phylogenetic diversity. Moreover, we found that higher June/July species richness was positively correlated with higher phylogenetic diversity, but not CISA values, indicating that this diversity was not due to invasive or non-native species.
Matthew A Kaproth
Date of Degree
Master of Science (MS)
Science, Engineering and Technology
Peterson, A. (2020). Vegetation surveys in Southern Minnesota prairies: Management, invasive species and future directions [Master’s thesis, Minnesota State University, Mankato]. Cornerstone: A Collection of Scholarly and Creative Works for Minnesota State University, Mankato. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/etds/1072
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