Mead’s Milkweed (Asclepias meadii) is a federally threatened plant of tallgrass prairies in North America. Studies aimed at understanding the biology and ecology of this rare milkweed usually focus on healthy or restored populations in the tallgrass prairies of Kansas, Iowa, and Illinois. Thus, this study was designed to provide details about unique, understudied habitats surrounding isolated populations in the Missouri Ozarks.
The igneous glades of the St. Francois Mountains are small grasslands with shallow soils and harbor some of the healthiest populations of A. meadii. Three soil samples were collected at each site and used to describe the physical and chemical characteristics by pedon. Plant cover was sampled on multiple occasions throughout the growing season using thirty-five 1 m2 quadrats at both sites. Cover data was analyzed using Shannon’s Diversity and Evenness indices. The results of this study show that these communities are fairly diverse, grass-dominated areas on strongly acidic, nutrient poor soils. They also provide a dynamic, rather than static, view of the plant community. Diversity and evenness are consistent throughout the growing season, as is the cover of most dominant families and grass species. The cover from other species depended on the time of year. In general, overall diversity and evenness fluctuate little during the growing season.
Concerns for A. meadii are often centered on inbreeding and outbreeding depressions, therefore restoration efforts will depend heavily on the success of introduced individuals to augment genetically depauperate populations and reintroductions. Determining the basic characteristics of communities (plant composition plus soil parameters) associated with A. meadii, as was done here, can help guide restoration efforts by matching characteristics between source and target populations.
|Advisor:||Bornstein, Allan J.|
|Commitee:||Aide, Michael T., Kraemer, John C., Taylor, Michael S.|
|School:||Southeast Missouri State University|
|Department:||College of Science, Technology, & Agriculture|
|School Location:||United States -- Missouri|
|Source:||MAI 55/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Plant biology, Ecology, Plant sciences|
|Keywords:||Asclepias meadii, Igneous glade, Mead's milkweed, Missouri, Natural community ecology, St. Francois Mountains|
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