Developing Probability Maps for Locating and Scouting Unprotected Areas of Gravel Hill Prairies on Rodman Soils along the Wabash River in the Vicinity of Lafayette, Indiana

Ryan Schroeder
Purdue University
Ryan Schroeder is a Junior at Purdue University’s College of Agriculture studying Natural Resources and Environmental Science with minors in Soil Science and Plant Science. Since his freshman year (Fall 2013), he has conducted research under Dr. Darrell Schulze on the Integrating Spatial Educational Experiences (ISEE) soils mapping tool and began volunteering with NICHES Land Trust as a volunteer site manager the Potawatomi Trail property during the fall of 2014. In addition to being a volunteer site manager, he has assisted with numerous prescribed burns and conducted a number of independent volunteer geospatial research studies for various management/information purposes. Ryan is also the President of the Purdue Environmental Science Club (ESC) and has organized a number of club volunteer workdays with NICHES on various properties to assist in management activities. He plans on attending graduate school in a ecosystem management/soil science graduate program after graduating from Purdue in May 2017.
Other presenters/researchers: 
Contributors: Derek Luchik, The Nature Conservancy; Bob Easter, NICHES Land Trust

The Gravel Hill Prairies of the Wabash River Valley in the vicinity of Lafayette, Indiana are an endangered habitat in the state of Indiana (currently only three locations are known) and provide optimal growing conditions for a number of state endangered plants. Previous studies conducted in the 1980’s attempted to locate additional gravel hill prairies, with little success. These unique ecosystems have been found to occur almost exclusively on soils classified as Rodman Gravelly Loams and complexes thereof (i.e. Strawn-Rodman complex) which occur along the Wabash River’s outwash terrace. This volunteer research effort aims to determine potential areas of undiscovered gravel hill prairie remnants to develop a strategy to scout areas identified with the highest probability of occurrence for acquisition and conservation of said ecosystems. To date, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) such as ArcGIS and geospatial datasets such as the USDA’s Gridded Soil Survey Geographic (gSSURGO) for the state of Indiana have not been used to attempt and locate additional gravel hill prairies. This volunteer research effort relied on spatial analysis with GIS and numerous databases (like the USDA’s gSSURGO product) to develop maps and plans of potential areas to scout.

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