From Putt Putt to Prairie: A Hole-in-One for Ecological Restoration


From Putt Putt to Prairie: A Hole-in-One for Ecological Restoration



Sara Marie Brunner, Erin Nicole Ferrell, Drew Daniel Gojsovich, Alex Everitte Newman-Caro


This poster reflects research conducted as part of a course project designed to give students experience in the research process.



This study was designed to be a vital stepping-stone in the long-term ecological restoration of Old River Park, located in Dayton, Ohio. For over fifty years, this park served the public and inevitably became a significant part of the Dayton community. Nestled within the park is a deserted Putt Putt course that has been consumed by invasive plants such as Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) and honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii). Due to the lack of natural predators, these plants actively inhibit the growth of other native species by outcompeting them for vital resources such as sunlight and water. This has ultimately led to a detrimental decrease in native plant biodiversity. The objective of this project was to restore the course by first clearing and controlling the invasive plants. A trial-and-error process was utilized to determine individualized methods of removal. Spaded shovels were best-suited for removing Callery pear, while clippers were best-suited for removing honeysuckle. To re-enforce the natural competition within the area, the team visited different sites within Old River Park and collected native prairie plant seeds. Species included pokeweed (Phytolacca americana), white snakeroot (Ageratina altissima), goldenrod (Solidago), and wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia). The team collected no more than twenty percent of seeds from each population to ensure phenotypic diversity and genotypic variability. These seeds were then dispersed within the cleared areas of the course. Ultimately, the group was able to remove invasive species from fourteen of the eighteen Putt Putt holes. As a continuing project, further results are pending based on the re-growth of invasives during the spring, summer, and fall of 2019. The team also worked with other students and Dayton community professionals to produce a long-term vision and restoration goal for the site. Native plants will be seeded at each hole of the course based on sunlight and nutrient availability, conclusively producing a “native prairie garden walk” for public education and enjoyment. This research is important because it will allow University of Dayton students to understand the importance of native ecology and the substantial impact that humans can have on natural environments.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Course Project

Primary Advisor

Ryan W. McEwan

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium project

From Putt Putt to Prairie: A Hole-in-One for Ecological Restoration