Grasslands are known to have been an important ecosystem in the Illinois landscape prior to European settlement. They have been severely impacted by changes in land use such as the conversion of native grasslands to agricultural land for the production of crops and livestock. Grassland ecosystems are known to provide several essential ecosystem functions that are important for the maintenance of the ecosystem and for human survival. Some of the ecosystem functions associated with grasslands include: nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, and the cleansing of environmental contaminants from water or soil. As grasslands are converted to agricultural use, their ability to perform these ecosystem functions are greatly impaired or lost completely. Due to their recognized importance, grassland restoration projects have been given high priority by conservationists and governmental agencies around the world. Some grassland restorations aim to restore the native vegetation including the great species richness that grasslands, and prairie ecosystems in particular, are known for. Other projects, like the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), aim to restore one of the vital ecosystem functions that grasslands provide. The measure of success for a grassland restoration has largely been evaluated using species composition and indices of species richness and evenness. These types of measurements do not directly assess the ability of a restoration site to perform the ecosystem functions of a native grassland. The aim of this study is to determine if ecosystem function is recovered over time since restoration. This will be accomplished using a chronosequence of grassland restorations at the Nature Institute in Godfrey, IL ranging from 1 year to 25 years since restoration. Several indicators of ecosystem functioning will be assesses at each site including: soil bulk density, soil organic matter, and peak standing crop. The differences in these characteristics among the sites were analyzed by one-way ANOVA followd by Tukey’s HSD test if significant. All properties were analyzed using linear regression to assess their fit to a linear model. Soil bulk density was found to moderately but significantly decrease in response to time since restoration (p = 0.0049) indicating a recovery from soil compaction and improved soil structure. Differences were detected in soil organic matter among the sites, but no linear trend in response to time since restoration was detected. Similarly with peak standing crop, differences were detected among the sites, but no linear trend with time since restoration. The lack of a predictable recovery in soil characteristics over time was attributed to differences in historical land use. In order to strengthen this study in the future, analysis of a remnant prairie and older restoration sites should be examined.
|Commitee:||Brugam, Richard, Esselman, Elizabeth, Minchin, Peter|
|School:||Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||MAI 53/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Ecosystem function, Ecosystem services, Grasslands, Illinois, Praire, Restoration|
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