Tallgrass Prairie Restoration at the Emiquon Preserve

Tallgrass Prairie Restoration at the Emiquon Preserve: Change in Floristic Composition During the Early Stages of Restoration (INT)
Amy McEuen, University of Illinois Springfield
Additional Contributors: Emily Staley, Christy Troxell-Thomas, University of Illinois Springfield

Temperate grasslands are at extreme risk due to high conversion and low protection rates. Little remnant tallgrass prairie remains making restoration imperative. The Nature Conservancy's Emiquon Preserve, located along the Illinois River in central Illinois, has restoration of floodplain lakes as its primary goal, but the site also includes over 100 ha that are being restored as tallgrass prairie. We sampled two prairie sites in 2008 and 2012 to assess changes in plant species composition. We also estimated floristic quality using the Floristic Quality Index (FQI). Site quality increased through time as evidenced by increases in native richness, decreases in nonnative richness and increases in FQI. FQI is also highly sensitive to sampling effort suggesting caution should be used when comparing FQI values across studies. Creating resilient restorations will be discussed in the context of a 2013 levee overtopping which flooded two of Emiquon's tallgrass restoration sites.

Amy McEuen, University of Illinois Springfield
Amy McEuen has taught at the University of Illinois Springfield for the last ten years including courses in environmental biology, conservation biology, and ecology. She has a PhD in terrestrial ecosystems from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment and specializes in plant community ecology. She has collaborated with both graduate and undergraduate students on a variety of research projects. Most of these projects examine factors influencing plant biodiversity within the tallgrass prairie restorations at The Nature Conservancy's Emiquon Preserve in central Illinois. She is very interested in "New Conservation" and methods we can use to increase biodiversity protection outside of natural areas.