Evaluation of tallgrass prairie restoration methods to improve resistance to invasive species and maintenance of plant species diversity over time

Science Center Objects

When reconstructing native tallgrass prairie from abandoned farmland, patience can pay off. In this research effort, we observed that as reconstructions matured, Canada thistle cover declined even though herbicides were not applied.  There is no single best planting method for all situations.  Ten years after planting, cover of planted, native non-planted, and exotic species varied little among three planting methods (dormant-season broadcast, growing-season broadcast, growing-season drill) used in this study.  Planting a seed mix with more species did result in reconstructions that harbored more species, but at the cost of lower proportional success.  Exotic cool-season grasses may be the biggest threat to these reconstructions.  None of the planting methods or seed mix richness levels slowed their increase. We also worked with restoration ecologists in other ecosystems to synthesize recommendadtiob for using ecological restoration to curb biotic invasions. Knowledge gained from this research effort is useful to land managers aiming to improve invasion resistance in tallgrass prairie restorations.