Prairie Ecology

Stories and Blog Posts about Prairie Ecology

Check out these posts on the Prairie Ecologist  blog;

An Early Attempt to Evaluate Prairie Restoration Success by Looking at Insect Use.

Back in February, I wrote a post that laid out some ideas about how to measure success when using prairie restoration (reconstruction) to stitch fragmented remnant prairies back together.  One of the main needs is to see whether species from the remnant are also using the restored prairie.  If I’m trying to make a small remnant prairie function as a larger prairie by adding restored prairie around it, the species in the remnant must be able to expand into and travel through the…  read more

 How Should Landowners Evaluate Their Prairies?

I always enjoy talking with landowners about their prairies because it helps remind me what’s important to them.  I already know what I want to see happen in the prairies I manage, but every landowner has their own individual … read more

The Problem with “Calendar Prairies”

I think I first heard the term “calendar prairie” from my friend Bill Whitney of Prairie Plains Resource Institute.  He was talking about the mental image many people have of prairies that comes from seeing photographs of grasslands full of big…read more

Why Every Prairie Really is Unique – and Why it Matters

Several years ago, I helped assemble a group of partners to begin some pilot research on what kinds of impacts habitat fragmentation may be having on the tallgrass prairies in southeastern Nebraska.  While those prairies are greatly fragmented compared…read more

The Myth of Self-Sustaining Prairies

Here’s a question I get asked occasionally:  “At what point will my prairie become self-sustaining?” There are lots of ways “self-sustaining” can be defined, of course, but usually the person is hoping that at some point they can just step back … Continue reading →

How Should We Manage Small Prairies?

Prairie management can be complicated, regardless of how big a prairie is.  Managing small prairies, however, is especially challenging, and it can be difficult to know how to set appropriate objectives – let alone how to achieve them.  Living in east-central Nebraska, I’m in the transition zone between the small fragmented grasslands of the tallgrass prairie to the east and large expansive prairies to the west of me.  Because of that, I have done a lot of thinking about what objectives and strategies might apply to small prairies, large prairies, or both.  I certainly don’t have all the answers, but…read more

Looking for Ecological Impacts?  Urine Luck!

I came across a copy of one of my all-time favorite research articles the other day.  The paper tells a great story about the kinds of complex interactions that occur between the biotic and abiotic components of an ecosystem, including feedback loops and ecological hierarchies.  But more importantly, it’s a story about a guy who dumps bison urine on the prairie to see what happens…read more


Contrasting Approaches to Prairie Management: Leopold, Land Health and Cabbages.

“A Land Ethic” is the concluding essay in Aldo Leopold’s 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, and is the most powerful and relevant piece of conservation writing I’ve ever read.   Leopold’s essay spells out the changes we need to make in the way we view our relationship with the land, and it is both impressive and frustrating that nearly everything in that essay still reads true today.  If anyone reading this blog post has never read A Sand County Almanac, please stop reading this, go pick up a copy of the book, and read it.

I’ll wait…read more

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