Developing evaluation and monitoring frameworks for tallgrass prairie reconstruction

Science Center Objects

Thousands of hectares of retired farmland are planted with tallgrass prairie species each year.  If the methods used and resulting characteristics of these prairies are recorded, compiled, and analyzed, they can provide a valuable resource for evaluating seed mixes, planting methods, and post-planting management.  Toward this end, collaborators in the Prairie Reconstruction Initiative, funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, developed a database to make data such as these available to researchers and the public.  To jump-start this effort, and to illustrate what can be learned by keeping good records of reconstructions, we gathered data from two refuges comprised of reconstructed prairies and evaluated the utility of retrospective information on planting methods, seed mix characteristics, and post-planting management in predicting reconstruction outcomes. Further, in collaboration with researchers at North Dakota State University, we have assessed the likelyhood of unsuccessful tallgrass prairie reconstructions. Information gained from this effort will be useful to tallgrass-prairie evaluation and monitoring efforts in the Northern Great Plains.