Dominant Grasses Suppress Local Diversity in Restored Tallgrass Prairie

McCain, K.N.S., S.G. Baer, J.M. Blair and G.W.T. Wilson

Publication Date:

Mesic grasslands worldwide have been degraded by conversion to agriculture, altered disturbance regimes, fragmentation, improper grazing by domestic livestock, and exotic species invasion. Many efforts to restore productive, mesic grasslands such as North American tallgrass prairie have been plagued by relatively low initial species diversity, which decreases further over time. As a result, it has been difficult to achieve a level of species diversity in these restored grasslands, that is, characteristic of their native because a few warm-season (C4) grass species become excessively dominant shortly after establishment Understanding the ecological processes and management practices that promote dominance of the warm-season grasses and loss of subordinate species will be critical for achieving the high species diversity characteristic of native tallgrass prairie in restored grasslands. In addition, gaining knowledge of how plant communities respond to changes in abundance of dominant species will aid in understanding the role of dominance in structuring communities and predicting how restored communities will respond to management practices that alter abundance of the dominant species in restored grasslands.

Resource Type:
Peer-reviewed Article

Restoration Ecology