If we build it, will they come? Insect communities as indicators of restoration in an urban prairie network
The increasing negative effects of human impact on Earth has led to the urgent need for large-scale ecological restoration. One ecosystem of particular interest is tallgrass prairie, which is one of North America’s most endangered ecosystems. However, restored and constructed prairies often do not support the same biodiversity and ecosystem services as remnant prairies. Most restoration projects only focus on reinstating vegetation, assuming other trophic levels will colonize on their own. One of these taxonomic groups are arthropods, which make up a majority of the biodiversity in prairies. We sought to determine if there is a difference in the arthropod communities of constructed and remnant prairies. It was hypothesized that arthropod communities would be different, and older constructions would more closely resemble remnants. Indicator species could be identified, which possess certain functional traits (morphological or life history) that allow them to colonize these sites. Sweepnet samples (100 sweeps per site) were taken at 5 constructed prairies and 5 remnant prairies in 2017, and 7 constructed prairies and 6 remnant prairies in 2018. All arthropods were sorted to order, and some orders to morphospecies. We saw that in 2017, Coleoptera (beetle) abundances were higher in remnants compared to constructions (p=0.04). In particular, Phalacridae (shining flower beetles) could be possible indicator species for restoration in prairies. Preliminary data from 2018 shows that the number of Phalacridae increases with the age of the constructed site (R²=0.47). These results suggest that insect communities are different in the two prairie types and certain species of arthropods are not being restored in one or two years, but rather over long periods of time as late-successional species are able to colonize. These results could have large implications on how tallgrass prairies are restored and managed, and how these ecosystems should be assessed for restoration.
Kathleen A Kargl, Chelse M Prather
Primary Advisor's Department
Stander Symposium poster
"If we build it, will they come? Insect communities as indicators of restoration in an urban prairie network" (2019). Stander Symposium Posters. 1731.