2018 Nachusa Grasslands Science Symposium Speaker and Poster Abstracts
Science at Nachusa – Elizabeth Bach, PhD, Nachusa Grasslands Ecosystem Restoration Scientist; PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Iowa State University, M.S. in Plant Biology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, B.A. from Cornell College. (email@example.com). Most recently, Elizabeth served as Executive Director of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative at Colorado State University.
Do Prairie Birds Provide Services or Disservices on Adjacent Conventional Farms? – Megan Garfinkel, PhD candidate, Dept. of Biological Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago (firstname.lastname@example.org). Advisor: C. Whelan (email@example.com).
Birds can provide effective pest removal services in many agricultural systems, but most studies have taken place in “wildlife friendly” or tropical agriculture where bird density and/or diversity tends to be high. Most agriculture in the US, however, consists of industrialized monocrop systems, which often do not harbor high bird diversity. One exception is when these agricultural fields are situated adjacent to natural habitats like grasslands that provide a source for bird populations. Nachusa grasslands is an ideal study site, because the relatively high bird diversity supported by prairies may spill over into the adjacent corn and soy fields, where those birds have the potential to provide ecosystem services or disservices. These birds may provide services by eating pest insects; they can provide disservices directly by eating or damaging crops, or indirectly by eating “beneficial” arthropods such as arthropod predators. My study examined the question of whether grassland birds that “spillover” into crop fields provide net services or disservices. In the first year, I found that birds provided significant pest control services in a corn field next to prairie, but significant disservices in the adjacent soy field. In the following year, I found that birds again provided disservices in soy when measured by soybean leaf damage, but there was no resulting effect on crop yield. I also found that birds were consuming major corn pests, including Northern and Western corn rootworms (Diabrotica barberi and D. vergifera). The results of this research suggest that prairies may provide sources of bird populations in nearby agriculture that can have significant indirect effects on crop production.
High Species Diversity Associated with Terrestrial Burrows at Nachusa Grasslands – John Vanek, PhD candidate, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Northern Illinois University (firstname.lastname@example.org). Advisor: R. King (email@example.com).
Large burrows abound at Nachusa Grasslands and these burrows likely provide important ecosystem functions that impact ongoing prairie restoration, including soil aeration and turnover. However, little is known about which species are creating or using these burrows. This lack of basic information prevents the development of rigorous, hypothesis driven science into how burrows at Nachusa influence prairie restoration. A better understanding of which organisms create, modify, and use these burrows will provide vital information towards ongoing research at Nachusa and other tallgrass prairie ecosystems. To address this knowledge gap, we deployed 15 remote cameras placed at burrows to explore the diversity of species using burrows at Nachusa Grasslands from March-June 2018. In total, we recorded hundreds of observations of 15 species of mammals across 10 families and 4 orders, as well as nearly 30 species and 10 families of birds. Notable finds include the presence of Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), a species that is declining across Illinois, and the first photographic evidence of the American Badger (Taxidea taxus) at Nachusa Grasslands. Use by several mammals of the same burrow (e.g. cottontail, badger, coyote, skunk, deer, and raccoon) suggests burrows may increase contact rates between species, which has important implications for wildlife epidemiological research. Cameras have been re-deployed and will remain active throughout the fall and winter.
Cicadas of Nachusa Grasslands – Catherine Dana, PhD candidate, Dept. of Entomology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (CDana2@illinois.edu). Advisor: S. Heads (firstname.lastname@example.org).
There are 21 species of cicadas in Illinois with a variety of habitat requirements -- ranging from some that thrive in urban environments to those that only exist in grasslands with sandy soil to those that are only found in high-quality (often remnant) prairies. Cicadas can provide a valuable resource in Illinois landscapes by cycling a low nutrient food source, xylem, obtained below ground to above ground where they are consumed by other insects, spiders, birds, and small mammals. Much of the locality information for cicadas is dated (73% of databased cicadas in the Illinois Natural History Insect Collection were collected prior to 1970). We visited Nachusa Grasslands to document cicadas (as well as other hemipterans and orthopterans) once a month from May to August 2018. Cicadas were sampled by collecting live adults when possible but also by collecting molts (for morphological and DNA analysis) and by audio recording male choruses. We found that there were new county records for both Megatibicen auletes and Neotibicen canicularis -- however, analysis is still underway. After analysis, specimens will be deposited at the Illinois Natural History Survey. In this presentation I will also talk briefly on work done this summer by my labmate, Nathalie Baena-Bejarano, on the orthopterans (especially pygmy mole crickets) of Nachusa Grasslands.
Identification of Culex and Aedes Mosquito Microbiomes in Wetland and Low Order Stream Habitats – Michele Rehbein, PhD candidate, Institute for Environmental Studies, Western Illinois University (email@example.com). Advisor: RC-Viadero (RC-Viadero@wiu.edu).
This study aims to identify mosquito microbiomes, and characterize and compare physical, chemical, and biological properties of mosquito larvae habitats. The field work portion of this research was conducted at Nachusa Grasslands in Franklin Grove, IL. Culex (Cx.) and Aedes (Ae.) mosquitoes were collected twice a week in 2018 mid-May through October 1 in wetland and low order stream habitats: Jay Meiners Wetland, Franklin Creek, Clear Creek, and an unnamed tributary of Franklin Creek. Adult mosquito and egg collections were completed using gravid and cup traps deployed along stream and wetland habitats. This first field season yielded 3403 adult Cx. and 236 adult Ae. mosquitoes; other species collected include Anopheles spp., Uranotaenia sapphirina, and Coquilettidia perturbans. There were 1896 Ae. eggs collected on germination paper and placed in emergence jars for later specie identification. At present, there have been 103 successfully developed Ae. eggs to adult and were identified as Ae. triseriatus. Stream flow was measured near trap locations, water and soil samples were taken monthly, and air temperature and light intensity were also recorded daily at each trap using HOBO® data loggers. This research is ongoing, the laboratory portion of this research will be conducted at the Institute for Environmental Studies laboratory at Western Illinois University – Quad City campus. DNA extraction and PCR will be completed and the 16S rRNA gene will be amplified and sequenced using Illumina MiSeq to identify and characterize microbial communities within mosquito guts. Relationships between mosquito microbiomes and aquatic habitats will be determined.
Restoration Management Influences Functional Composition Change in a Native Bee Community of Restored Tallgrass Prairie – Bethanne Bruninga-Socolar, PhD, Dept. of Entomology, University of Minnesota (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ecological restorations that re-establish plant communities are assumed to benefit animal communities, which may re-colonize restored areas from the surrounding landscape. Recent work shows that plant-based restorations are successful at establishing bee diversity and abundance at levels that approach remnant habitats. However, the community assembly process by which bee species from a regional pool are sorted into restored habitats during colonization is not well understood. In existing restorations, understanding the site-level habitat associations of bee species can shed light on the past community assembly process and inform restoration practice. Bee species are expected to occur in sites with characteristics that match up with bee functional traits. In actively managed restorations, site characteristics are often determined by management actions. We used a multi-year dataset of bee specimens collected in a tallgrass prairie restoration to determine how functional traits mediate bee species’ occurrence among a chronosequence of restored sites managed with prescribed fire and bison grazing. The functional composition of the native bee community, particularly with respect to nesting substrate, changed with time since a prescribed burn and with the presence/absence of bison. Soil nesting bees responded negatively to time since a burn, while stem nesting bees responded positively. However, the overall bee community abundance and richness responded to landscape context rather than management actions.
Effects of Management on Functional Diversity in Restored Tallgrass Prairie Plant Communities – Anna K. Farrell, M.S. candidate, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Northern Illinois University (email@example.com). Advisor: N. Barber (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Current methods of assessing restoration outcomes depend heavily on taxonomic diversity measures, yet these measures struggle to describe the changes in species traits and ecosystem functions. Functional traits (traits that explain species’ characteristics and their roles in the environment) can provide a more nuanced approach to understanding how environmental conditions shape plant communities and the functions they perform. In the context of ecosystem restoration, restoration management techniques can act as environmental conditions that vary across sites at Nachusa. This study examines the functional consequences of bison reintroduction, prescribed fire, and restoration age on plant communities, if these measures are affected by individual variations within species, and how they affect ecosystem function. Functional diversity metrics were compared with net plant growth to estimate ecosystem function. Functional diversity consistently decreased with age across multiple metrics, and when including intraspecific variations. Increases in functional diversity led to increased productivity, and while site age negatively impacted productivity. These results show that management strategies at Nachusa alter plant communities through changes in species characteristics, and that these changes influence important ecosystem processes. Understanding the relationships between environmental conditions, plant traits, and ecosystem functions may allow restoration managers to better plan, predict, and achieve restoration goals, such as high biodiversity, invasive species control, and reinstated ecosystem services.
Of Mice and Management: Small Mammals and the Impacts of Herbicide at a Restored Prairie – Nick Steijn, M.S. candidate, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Northern Illinois University (email@example.com). Advisor: H. Jones (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Tallgrass prairie, one of the most endangered ecosystems on Earth, is currently threatened with invasion by nonnative plants. Small mammals (e.g., mice, voles, and squirrels) affect plant community assembly via herbivory, granivory, and seed caching. Thus, small mammals may influence the spread of invasive plants. Conversely, removing invasive plants may reduce food availability to small mammals, altering their abundance or diversity. The goal of this study was to determine the impacts of herbicide control of red clover (Trifolium pratense, a common invasive plant) on small mammal diversity at Nachusa Grasslands. We captured and tagged small mammals at 14 sites; at half the sites T. pratense was removed by spot spraying with broadleaf herbicide. From 2016-2018 we caught 452 unique individuals comprising nine different species. Overall, diversity and evenness of small mammal communities was low. Deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) were the most abundant species for all years except 2017, when prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) exhibited a population boom. Sprayed sites had slightly lower diversity than unsprayed sites, though this small of a decline in diversity is likely not biologically significant, and more research is necessary to understand whether particularly rare small mammals are impacted by herbicide. Separately, a greenhouse experiment was conducted to determine the effectiveness of four herbicides on birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus, another invasive plant) seeds. Milestone, Crossbow, and Garlon 3A were more effective than a control treatment at reducing birdsfoot trefoil germination, while Transline had no significant impact and thus is not recommended for killing birdsfoot trefoil seeds.
Modeling Individual Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata) Health at Nachusa Grasslands – Laura Adamovicz, DVM, PhD candidate1, (email@example.com). Advisor: M. Allender1 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Sarah J. Baker, PhD2; Ethan J. Kessler2; Michael J. Dreslik, PhD2 ( 1Wildlife Epidemiology Lab, Department of Comparative Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL; 2Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL)
Ornate box turtles (Terrapene ornata) are a species of conservation concern, but relatively little is known about the impact of poor individual health on persistence of this species. The objectives of this 3-year study were to 1) characterize health status in the ornate box turtle population at Nachusa, 2) identify factors which support positive health status using epidemiologic modeling approaches, and 3) generate evidence-based management recommendations promoting individual health. Turtles (N=220) were evaluated using physical examination, hematology, plasma biochemistry, protein electrophoresis, and hemoglobin-binding protein in May 2016, 2017, and 2018. DNA from oral/cloacal swabs and blood was assayed for four ranaviruses, three Mycoplasma spp., three herpesviruses, two Salmonella spp., Terrapene adenovirus, intranuclear coccidiosis, Borrelia burgdorferi, and Anaplasma phagocytophilum using qPCR. Health was modeled as a categorical outcome using structural equation modeling and Bayesian network modeling, followed by information-theoretic model ranking. “Healthy” turtles had 1) no significant PE abnormalities, 2) no pathogens affecting clinical condition, and 3) fewer than three abnormal bloodwork values. Turtles violating these criteria were classified as “Unhealthy”. Many turtles examined (51-59%) had shell damage from suspected predator trauma. Pathogen detection (adenovirus, Terrapene herpesvirus 1) was not related to health status. Predictors of “Unhealthy” classification from the most parsimonious model included the presence of shell abnormalities and deviations from population median values for total leukocyte count, eosinophils, basophils, and heterophil:lymphocyte ratios (p<0.05). Modeling demonstrated that physical examination and hematology sufficiently predict health within this population, and that commonly-identified pathogens do not significantly impact individual health. Mesopredator control and disease screening for incoming turtles were recommended to support overall population wellness. This study reveals the feasibility of modeling health in wildlife and illustrates its use for identifying clinically useful diagnostic tests and informing practical conservation interventions.
Efforts in Recovery of the Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid (Platanthera leucophaea) – Cathy Pollack, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chicago Ecological Services Office (email@example.com).
The eastern prairie fringed orchid (federally threatened/state endangered) population at Nachusa has increased dramatically since initial seeding in the years 1996 and 2000. These plants donate seed and pollen to other Illinois populations, thus contributing to range wide recovery of this species. Efforts to recover this species includes research into the soil mycorrhizae responsible for successful seed germination. Preliminary results of this research conducted by Dr. Elizabeth Esselman (Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville) and her graduate students will be presented.
The Bees of Nachusa Grasslands and Their Ecological Significance in the Region – Laura Rericha-Anchor, Wildlife Biologist, Cook County Forest Preserve District (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Sean Griffin, PhD candidate, Dept. of Integrative Biology, Michigan State University (email@example.com).
More than 200 bee taxa have been vouchered from Nachusa Grasslands during six growing seasons from 2013 to 2018. Significant is that the Nachusa bee fauna is at least 40% similar to the regional inventory of species. Primarily a prairie fauna, numerous taxa have been shown to be rare, disjunct, or new to Illinois. And a regional comparison among natural divisions has revealed that the fauna shares affinities with sandy districts further east and prairie ecosystems further west. Specialization between bees and the plants occurring at the site, including the presence of numerous hosts and their respective parasites, demonstrates that the remnants and restorations of Nachusa Grasslands are refugia for bee diversity.
Poster Presentations with Links to Photos of Posters:
Odonates of Nachusa Grasslands: 2013-2018 – Cindy Crosby on behalf of the Nachusa Dragonfly Monitoring Team, M.S. University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Odonates – dragonflies and damselflies – consume large quantities of mosquitoes, tell us about climate change, and are indicators of water quality at Nachusa Grasslands. Since 2013, dragonfly monitoring has helped Nachusa understand what species are present, their populations and locations, their migration habits, and how this data is stable or changing. By monitoring their populations, we have an opportunity to think about how management methods (such as fire, drain tile removal, or herbicide use) may influence changes in species richness and populations. Currently, we have six monitors working in about ten locations who record species data from April through October. Our poster highlights some of the species and migration habits of Odonates at Nachusa Grasslands over the past six years. Interested in monitoring dragonflies at Nachusa Grasslands in 2019? Contact Cindy Crosby for more information.
Pygmy Mole Crickets and Other Relatives (Orthoptera: Caelifera) from Nachusa Grasslands – Nathalie Baena-Bejarano, PhD candidate, Department of Entomology and Center for Paleontology, Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois at Champaign- Urbana (email@example.com); and Sam Heads, PhD, Center for Paleontology, Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Pygmy mole crickets (Tridactylidae), pygmy grasshoppers (Tetrigidae) and relatives belong to the group of grasshoppers with short-antennae, also known as Califera. To date, there are 48 species of caeliferans known to occur in Illinois. From these, only two species are pygmy mole crickets and seven species are pygmy grasshoppers. We focused our research on surveying these organisms because pygmy mole crickets and pygmy grasshoppers inhabit more specialized habitats. They are found in riparian habitats, where they feed on algae and/or detritus. These insects provide a service to the ecosystem with nutrient cycling. We visited Nachusa Grasslands once a month from May to August 2018 to sample riparian habitats and collect crickets and grasshoppers from vegetation near streams, ponds, and marshes by sweep-net. The samples were preserved in ethanol for future molecular analysis. To date, we have collected short-antennae grasshoppers from the families Tridactylidae, Tetrigidae and Acrididae. Identification of the samples to a lower rank is still ongoing, but we found pygmy mole crickets (Ellipes sp.) from three sites. By the end of the project, we expect to provide a catalogue of habitat specialized crickets and grasshoppers. We will use molecular techniques for the delimitation of species and populations of pygmy mole crickets.
Illinois RiverWatch at Nachusa Grasslands: 2014-2018 – Mary Vieregg (M.S. Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) on behalf of the Nachusa Riverwatch Team of volunteers: Cindy Buchholz, Jan Grainger, Mary Meier, Matt Friberg, Paul Swanson, Tim Ngo, Laurie Faller.
Illinois RiverWatch is a volunteer component of the Illinois Critical Trends Assessment Program. It is coordinated by the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC) which was established in 2002 to study the ecology of big rivers and their watersheds. Only data collected by volunteers trained through the Riverwatch program is entered into the official databases of IDNR, INHS, and NGRREC. Four streams at Nachusa Grasslands are now being studied under the auspices of RiverWatch: Babbling Brook, Clear Creek, Johnny’s Creek, and Wade Creek. An annual monitoring of both habitat conditions and “indicator” macroinvertebrate diversity is conducted between May 1 and June 30 at the same site in each stream. The collected data provides a snapshot of the condition of the stream at the time of sampling. After five or more years of data collection, trends in stream quality direction may emerge. Only Clear Creek and Wade Creek have been monitored for five years. Johnny’s Creek has been monitored for four years; Babbling Brook for one year. Five years of sampling data for Wade Creek indicate that the water quality in the creek is improving. The water quality of Clear Creek appears to be declining. Maps of the creeks’ watersheds suggest possible explanations for the diverging trend lines. 1) How much of each creek’s watershed is encompassed within Nachusa Grasslands and 2) changing upstream conditions and inputs into each watershed may explain the differences. Preliminary data for Johnny’s Creek and Babbling Brook is also provided but no trend lines have been calculated.
Quantifying Soil Organic Carbon Fractions under Land Use Types in Nachusa Grasslands – Xiagong Chen, PhD (email@example.com) and Mary Carrington, PhD, (firstname.lastname@example.org), Professors of Biology and Environmental Biology, Division of Chemistry and Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Science, Governors State University.
Soil organic carbon (SOC) is an important indicator of soil quality, health and environmental sustainability, but is sensitive to land use types. As SOC is composed of plant, animal and microbial residues in all stages of decomposition, which forms various relatively discrete components with different physicochemical properties, it has been suggested that alterations in the different fractions of SOC are more effective in indicating changes in land use than total SOC stocks. In general, macroaggregates of SOC constitute recently deposited residues that reflect active and intermediate SOC stocks. Conversely, microaggregates of SOC are composed of microbial-processed and passive SOC stocks. However, how soil aggregation regulates SOC storage and distribution is still not fully understood. In this study, the quantity and distribution of SOC in four aggregate classes (>1000, 250-1000, 53-250, and < 53 μm) were investigated under four land use types (prairie, savanna, wetland, and woodland) in Nachusa Grasslands, northwestern Illinois. Four plots were set up in each of the land use types. Within each plot, three replicate soil samples were taken using a hand auger at different soil depths (0–10, 10–20, and 20–30 cm), respectively. Wetting-sieving method was used to obtain soil aggregate categories. Carbon and nitrogen contents were analyzed using Walkley Black Wet Digestion Method. The relationships between land use types associated with relevant management practices and SOC fractions were quantitatively obtained. The results from this project would provide us a better understanding of influences of land use changes and management practices on SOC sequestration and soil fertility in plant ecosystems.
The Effects of Bison Reintroduction on Grassland Bird Nest Success in Tallgrass Prairie – Heather Herakovich, PhD candidate, Dept. of Biological Science, Northern Illinois University (email@example.com). Advisor: H. Jones (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Tallgrass prairie has been converted to agriculture over the past century, making it one of the most threatened ecosystems globally. Agriculture conversion of prairie has severely fragmented the landscape and many grassland birds are now in decline and threatened with extirpation. Restoration projects have sought to increase the quality and size of prairie fragments, hypothetically increasing breeding habitat for grassland birds. The goal of our study was to understand how restoration practices (recent bison reintroduction and prescribed fire) influence nest success and brood parasitism. We measured nest success and brood parasitism in four plantings and two remnant sites from 2014-2018. Prescribed fire did not affect the survivorship of all nests found. Brood parasitism did not increase with bison presence but did influence the nest success of all species a long with vegetation density. Nest success was lower for facultative and obligate grassland nesting birds found in the bison grazed sites, but this could be influenced by the fewer nests found at these sites. It is possible that bison presence is influencing the number of nests and their lowered success due to a potential decrease in vegetation density due to their grazing. However, the extent of this shift and other potential mechanisms were not able to be tested with this study and will require long-term monitoring.
ReFuGE Project: Restoring Function in Grassland Ecosystems – Holly Jones, PhD, Asst. Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Illinois University (email@example.com) and Nick Barber, PhD, Asst. Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences, San Diego State University (firstname.lastname@example.org) with graduate students Anna Farrell, Sheryl Hosler, Melissa Nelson, Nick Steijn, and Kirstie Savage.
For the last two summers, our research team has been amassing data on how bison reintroduction, fire, and predator exclusion impacts community composition and functional traits of plants, small mammals, invertebrates, and ecosystem functions. For this poster, we are focusing on bison impacts. We have found that plant communities shift with age and are shaped by soil characteristics and the first year of precipitation, but the precipitation effect is absent when including plant phylogenetic relatedness (because drought tolerance may vary widely within clades). Looking within sites, restorations tend to get more phylogenetically patchy over time, but bison eliminate this pattern. Leaf litter from older restorations tends to decline more slowly than in younger sites, but the presence of bison may reduce this trend. Over time, plant communities become more phylogenetically patchy, but this is less apparent when bison are present. Small mammal communities don't change in composition, but rely on a wider variety of resources and are heavier in bison sites than in non-bison sites. Altogether, our project gives us a more holistic understanding of community and ecosystem changes with bison reintroduction, fire, and predator exclusion.
Ground Beetle Trophic Function in Restored and Remnant Tallgrass Prairies – Melissa Nelson, M.S. candidate, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Northern Illinois University (email@example.com). Advisor: N. Barber (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ground beetles are known to influence the structure of plant and insect communities by acting as both seed and arthropod predators. However, not much is known about how ground beetles respond to restoration or how they might impact restoration outcomes. By studying the functional traits, or characteristics that determine the effects of a species on its ecosystem, of higher trophic levels in restored areas, we can help resolve this issue. Over the span of spring and summer, pitfall traps were deployed across sites that varied in restoration age, presence of bison, and burn history to collect community data on ground beetles. Preliminary data shows that age increases beetle density. A separate experiment was also conducted to investigate functional roles through seed and arthropod predation rates at each site. Together these findings will have the potential to help the managers at Nachusa understand how restoration affects ground beetle communities and furthermore, how ground beetles are impacting restoration outcomes at Nachusa through changes in ecosystem function.
Dung Beetle Functional Traits Related to Restoration Management Practices in Tallgrass Prairie – Sheryl Hosler, M.S. candidate, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Northern Illinois University (email@example.com). Advisor: N. Barber (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The restoration of degraded ecosystems often focuses on reestablishing species richness and diversity of native organisms, especially plants. However functional trait descriptions of communities are emerging as a more comprehensive approach to evaluating restorations, including consumer communities. We examined the species composition and functional traits of dung beetle communities across a chronosequence of restored tallgrass prairie in Illinois, including sites with and without bison and prescribed fire. Data were collected on behavioral guild, diel activity, and body measurements, and functional diversity metrics (functional richness, evenness, and dispersion) were analyzed using generalized linear models. We also performed a dung decomposition experiment to measure an ecosystem function driven by these insects. Older restorations demonstrated higher levels of dung beetle functional richness and dispersion more similar to remnant sites than newer restorations. Restored sites with bison had greater functional richness and dispersion of dung beetle species, as well as faster rates of dung decomposition, than similar-aged sites without bison. Prescribed fires interacted with the presence of bison to influence functional richness, dispersion, and dung decomposition. We conclude that measures of functional diversity are more appropriate for evaluating the success of tallgrass prairie restorations because they indicate the restoration of ecosystem functions, rather than simply the presence or absence of species. Our research also reinforces the use of dung beetles as indicators of functional restoration in grasslands. We recommend that restoration managers consider the arthropod community and its functional characteristics when making management decisions.
The Efficacy of Controlling Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) with Basal Bark Herbicide Application – Leah Kleiman (email@example.com).
Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) is a perennial shrub native to temperate Asia and is invasive in the Midwestern United States. It now infests many savannas and woodlands and is difficult to eradicate. This study looks at the efficacy of basal bark application, where a mineral oil solution of herbicide (triclopyr) is sprayed on the bark without cutting the plant. Live Amur honeysuckle shrubs in three randomly chosen treatment plots in an oak-hickory woodland at Nachusa Grasslands were treated differentially in late May, 2014. All shrubs were chosen and marked with tree-marking paint. For treatment 1, basal bark herbicide with mineral oil as carrier was applied to the stems with a backpack sprayer. For treatment 2, mineral oil alone was applied to the stems of another set of shrubs to test if it had any effect on mortality. As a control, the third set of shrubs was marked with paint and left untreated. Mortality data was collected in mid-September, 2014 by recording the number of shrubs with complete loss of leaves. The treatment plot with basal bark/mineral oil application yielded 100% mortality. Applying only mineral oil yielded 11.7% mortality, essentially little or no effect on honeysuckle. Nearly all of the control shrubs survived. This strongly suggests that the herbicide triclopyr was the main cause of shrub mortality. The basal bark treatment was effective on all diameters of honeysuckle encountered, from 0.25 cm to 15 cm.
Seasonal and Fire Effects on the Efficacy of Basal Bark Herbicide Treatment of Lonicera maackii – Kaleb Baker, M.S. candidate, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Northern Illinois University (firstname.lastname@example.org). Advisor: N. Barber (email@example.com).
Lonicera maackii, an invasive shrub to North America, has become ubiquitous across eastern and midwestern deciduous forests. While many studies have investigated the difference between invaded and uninvaded locations, few have investigated the actual removal of L. maackii with much replication, and fewer still have investigated the effectiveness of eradication measures. The purpose of this study was to determine seasonal differences between triclopyr basal bark applications in conjunction with prescribed fire by examining L. maackii death rates and off-target vegetative effects. I found that there were no seasonal basal bark differences or prescribed fire impacts on L. maackii death rates as all seasons and burn statuses were found to be nearly 100% effective. Also, off-target vegetative cover was not impacted by the seasonality of basal bark treatments and burn other than all had lower vegetative cover than untreated L. maackii. These findings provide support for flexible but effective management strategies employing basal bark treatments in fall, winter or spring to eradicate L. maackii.
Promoting Blanding’s Turtle Recovery at Nachusa Grasslands – Richard King, PhD, Associate Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Northern Illinois University (firstname.lastname@example.org), Dave Mauger, Natural Resource Consulting (email@example.com), Tom Anton, Ecological Consulting Group, LLC (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Jessica Fliginger, Laboratory Assistant, Northern Illinois University.
Efforts to promote Blanding’s Turtle population recovery at Nachusa Grasslands include:
Mycorrhizal Fungi Association and Population Genetics of Bastard Toadflax (Commandra umbellata) – Emma Leavens, M.S. candidate, Dept. of Plant Biology and Conservation, Northwestern University/Chicago Botanic Garden (email@example.com). Advisor: G. Mueller (firstname.lastname@example.org).
As biodiversity declines globally, conservation and restoration of diverse ecosystems is increasingly important. Using Floristic Quality Index and Coefficient of Conservatism can help identify species and sites to prioritize in conservation and restoration. Comandra umbellata is a hemiparasitic species which has high conservation value due to a high C-value and reported association with increased overall species diversity in grasslands. However, seeds of C. umbellata are particularly challenging to germinate and the species is recalcitrant to reintroduction in many restoration sites. As such, it has been difficult to assess requisite conditions for persistence and recruitment in the field. This study will investigate the association between C. umbellata and mycorrhizal fungi communities as a possible factor in seed germination and establishment. It will also investigate genetic variation found within C. umbellata populations to provide insights into genotypic diversity and distribution of this species.
Identifying Mycorrhizal Fungi of the Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid (Platanthera leucophaea) using ITS Markers – Elizabeth Esselman, PhD, Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (email@example.com) with graduate students Indianna Som, Kayla Tatum, Sephra Urbas, and Hana Thixton.
The Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid, Platanthera leucophaea, was once abundant across the prairies and wetlands of the upper Midwest, but became federally threated in 1989 due to an over 70 percent decline in range. Recovery actions for the species have included habitat protection and restoration, hand pollination, and artificial seed sowing. However, seedling establishment leading to self-sustaining populations remained unsuccessful. This lack of success was potentially due to the orchid’s need for development of a mycorrhizal association with a favorable soil-inhabiting fungus, crucial for seed germination and growth. Understanding these mycorrhizal associations is essential for P. leucophaea conservation, and the identification of fungi specific to this species is the focus of this study. Three different P. leucophaea populations were tested for this study throughout the range of Lake and Tuscola Counties. Former research by Zettler and Piskin identified Ceratobasidium and Tulasnella as the associative fungi with P. leucophaea throughout this range, but that identification was based on morphological data. In this study, DNA sequencing of the internal transcribed spacer region, ITS, of isolated P. leucophaea fungi will be conducted for positive identification, with the hypothesis that P. leucophaea associative fungi belong to the genus Ceratobasidium and Tulasnella.
Range-Wide Variation in Floral Traits and Local Pollinators in Downy Paintbrush (Castilleja sessiliflora, Orobanchaceae), and Implications for Restoration at the Range Edge – Katie Wenzell, PhD candidate, Dept. of Plant Biology and Conservation, Northwestern University. (KWenzell@u.northwestern.edu). Advisors: K. Skogen and J. Fant.
As Ms. Wenzell did not attend the Symposium, she submitted a written report.