Invasion and restoration of sand prairies

Positive feedback mechanisms may promote the continued dominance of some invasive plants, making restoration difficult. My students' work has examined the response of sand prairie communities and species to restoration treatments aimed at controlling smooth brome (Bromus inermis) and thus promoting native plant establishment. Sand prairies are a threatened plant community type in Wisconsin, home to many species of conservation interest.

To date, we have found no evidence that positive feedbacks inhibit prairie plant growth after smooth brome control. We have identified treatments that effectively decrease smooth brome cover and promote prairie restoration. Furthermore, native plants grew better in soil collected from a smooth brome monoculture than in soil from an agricultural field. Thus, brome fields may be prime sites for prairie restorations.

I am seeking a M.S. student interested in re-surveying our existing plots to evaluate longer-term restoration outcomes. This work is being carried out in collaboration with my students, my UW-L colleague Tom Volk, and the Mississippi Valley Conservancy; see Collaborators for more information. Top picture courtesy of Jessica Bolwahn Salesman.