Restoring Native Prairie Habitat in a Suburban Campus Landscape

Increased human development has led to a loss of native landscapes and native biodiversity. In urban areas this loss can be abated with the establishment of green spaces that include native plants, trees, and restored habitats. Incorporating local flora into urban landscapes can elicit multiple benefits, including decreased use of fossil fuels and pesticides, biodiversity enhancement, stormwater absorption and erosion control, increased genetic diversity, and pollination attraction. We evaluated different approaches of installing prairie habitat in a suburban landscape. The first phase of Prince Prairie was initiated on Calvin College’s campus in 2013. Replicated quadrats were embedded into the restored prairie, each with the same five species (Carex brevior, Coreopsis lanceolatus,, Liatris scariosa, Rosa carolina, and Schizachyrium scoparium) planted into six different soil treatments (10 replicates for each treatment; 60 total quadrats). These treatments consisted of combinations of rototilled or non-rototilled plots and three different sand:organic soil compositions. Our three years of data show that results are species dependent, both with regard to tilling and soil composition. Significant differences were also more frequent in the first, compared to the second year of data collection. This is an ongoing project with expanded plantings and more results coming in the future.

Subject Matter Level: 
Friday, January 15, 2016 - 11:15am to 11:30am
Deanna Geelhoed
Calvin College
Deanna Geelhoed is a current senior year student of Calvin College seeking a degree in Biology and Spanish. Local of the Grand Rapids Michigan area, Deanna is passionate about native habitats and integrating them into cities. After graduation Deanna plans to go on to graduate school and pursue a master’s degree. Career goals include a blend of ecological restoration and community outreach.
Kara Smit
Calvin College
Kara Smit is a Biology major and experienced researcher in her senior year at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI, but comes from south Chicago. She is interested in all things ecology and loves to travel and learn more about different ecosystems of the world. After graduation, she plans on going to graduate school for a Master’s Degree.
Other presenters/researchers: 
Leanna DeJong and Dr. Dave Warners