Evaluation of conservation grazing versus prescribed fire to manage tallgrass prairie remnants for plant and pollinator species diversity

Science Center Objects

With scarcely 2% of native tallgrass prairie remaining today, it is imperative that we wisely manage what little remains to conserve prairie-dependent plants, pollinators, other animals and ecosystem processes.  Two commonly used methods of prairie management are prescribed fire and conservation grazing.  Either method may present trade-offs with respect to conservation of vulnerable plant, bee or butterfly species, but at present those trade-offs are not well described and resource managers do not have all the information necessary to develop optimal management plans for their goals.  With this study, funded by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, we aim to fill that knowledge gap by characterizing effects on bees and butterflies that are related to the management practice itself versus those effects mediated by management-caused changes in vegetation.  Further, we will relate bee and butterfly life history traits to their responses to fire and grazing to clarify if results can be generalized, or are species-specific.