Valerie Thurston, Allyson Allen, Catherine Landry, Elizabeth Vear, Madelaine Gregory


Presentation: 10:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Kennedy Union Ballroom



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Solar energy in the state of Ohio has exponentially increased in recent years and has shown no signs of slowing. Large areas of unused land, or previously used agricultural areas are now being converted to solar array areas. At the same time, native Midwest prairies have diminished to making up less than 1% of land. We are now at the forefront of investigating how native plants and solar arrays can share the same spaces and create healthy ecosystems that can benefit many organisms. Few studies have been done on the effects of solar panels on plant composition, but recent studies have investigated how the microclimates created by shading of panels may yield a more diverse plant community. In our own study we wanted to investigate the current solar prairie at Curran Place in comparison to potential solar sites in the City of Dayton to see if solar prairies can have higher amounts of plant cover. Our first hypothesis was that plant cover is higher at Curran Place than the proposed sites. Our second hypothesis was that there would be higher forb species richness at Curran Place than proposed sites. Our last hypothesis was that plant cover will be higher outside of the solar array than inside. We used identification skills to identify the different plant species in quadrats and used Multivariate GLM testing. Univariate GLM testing, and Tukey testing to analyze our findings. We found that there were significant differences in bareground, grasses, and forbes between the sites. We also found that percent cover of plants was higher outside of the panels than inside. Lastly, we found that species richness was highest at the Curran Place prairie compared to the proposed sites. These findings indicate that solar prairies can be a successful ecosystem that yield a variety of native plants.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Course Project 202280 BIO 479L M1

Primary Advisor

Chelse Prather

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

Institutional Learning Goals

Practical Wisdom; Critical Evaluation of Our Times; Vocation

Power to the Plants: Measuring Plant Cover and Species Richness in a Solar Prairie Array and Proposed Solar Sites