Do Small, Urban Restorations Create Habitat for Regionally Declining Plant and Animal Species?
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Collaborative efforts are often important in achieving ecological goals. We partnered with SE Polk High School to create a peer-mentoring research team with two goals: (1) to build environmental education into the high school biology classroom and (2) to ascertain if ecological restoration protects species diversity. In the summer of 2009, we sampled a 77 acre restored prairie easement at Metro Park East. This inventory allowed us to generate a set of baseline data to test the hypothesis that ecosystem restoration succeeds at protecting native species, even in an urban landscape. To produce our inventory, we created a multi-arrayed sampling methodology, based on non-lethal techniques. We used track identification, Sherman live trapping and drift fencing to collect vertebrates. For invertebrates, we used aerial netting to collect samples. Plants were identified when in bloom. We sampled a total of 68 animal species and 46 plant species. Nine species that are in regional decline were discovered: bobolink, dickcissle, sedge wren, grasshopper sparrow, yellow-billed cuckoo, red-headed woodpecker, bull snake, ring-necked snake and wild indigo duskywing. These represent 6 birds, 2 snakes, and one butterfly. Our results also allowed us to create a set of future erosion and invasive species management strategies for Metro Park East. Future work will attempt to experimentally increase habitat for the nine species of regional conservative concern.
Advisor: Keith Summerville