MBG Restoration Ecologist, Litzsinger Road Ecology Center
• Water Quality
• Aquatic macroinvertebrates
• Invasive plant management
• Riparian forest ecology
Web Page: Litzsinger Road Ecology Center
Project: Edge Effects on Microclimate and Vegetation in Small Wet-Mesic Prairies. Located in the heart of the St. Louis metropolitan area, just 10 miles west of downtown St. Louis, the 34-acre study Litzsinger Road Ecology Center (LREC) encompasses a rich variety of habitats including bottomland forest, restored prairie, and an urban creek. The LREC prairie was part of a larger prairie in pre-settlement times. The area was used for agriculture, but since 1988 it has been the site a prairie restoration effort through intensive planting of prairie species and annual burns. The prairies of the LREC are relatively small, ranging in size from 1.5 to 4.5 acres. Smaller prairies have proportionally greater amounts of edge habitat and the potential to exhibit greater edge effects. Edge effects include the influence that two ecological communities have on each other along the boundary(called the ecotone) that separates them. Because such an area contains habitats common to both communities as well as others unique to the transition zone itself, the edge effect is typically characterized by greater species diversity and population density than occur in either of the individual communities. Research on prairie edge habitats is most commonly conducted with respect to the use (or disuse) of edges as nesting or foraging habitat for birds and insects, or on the increased likelihood of nest predation or parasitism. It appears that little work has been done on the impact of edge-associated microclimatic differences on the plant communities in edge habitats.
The purpose of this project is to determine the variation in microclimate and plant communities within the Litzsinger Road Ecology Center (LREC) prairies caused by proximity to prairie edges. What proportion of the prairie is dominated by true prairie species? If there is a difference in the vegetation at different locations within the prairie, can it be correlated to any microhabitat parameters (for example, temperature, shade, distance to an edge)?
Method(s): Six to ten north-south transects (or transects perpendicular to the edge?) will be laid out in the North Prairie and South Prairie at LREC. The Pasture Prairies is excluded due to the potential interference caused by inadequate east-west length which increases the amount of shade during the morning and evening; in addition the maximum transect length in this prairie is only 35 meters. Five sites will be selected along each transect at different distances from the prairie edge, possibly at 1, 4, 10, 20, and 40 meters. Measurements for this study should include (1) distance of each site from the nearest edge, (2) soil moisture, (3) temperature, (4) humidity, (5) hours of direct sunlight, (6) number of species in the plot, (7) above ground biomass measure of 2-4 prairie species that are common in the prairies (possibly Andropogon gerardii, Penstemon digitalis, Rudbeckia subtomentosa, Desmodium perplexum, Solidago altissima).
• Haake, Danelle M., Wilton, Tom, Krier, Ken, Stewart, Arthur J. and Cormier, Susan M. 2010. Causal Assessment of Biological Impairment in the Little Floyd River, Iowa, USA. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, 16: 1, 116-148.
• Haake, Danelle. 2011. Water Quality in Deer Creek and its Tributaries: An analysis of samples collected by Stream Team 2760.
• Slagle, M.W., P.W. Sweeney, K.M. Hiser, and H. Wells-Sweeney. 2008. Vegetation Survey of Prairie Reconstructions at Litzsinger Road Ecology Center. Proceedings of the North American Prairie Conference 20: 225–232.