Insects as an indicator? How unwanted and overlooked creatures in litter can be a useful tool to indicate prairie restoration success
Tallgrass prairies were once a dominant ecosystem in the US historically covering roughly 1/3 of the nation but now roughly 4% of prairie coverage remains. These prairies provide valuable ecosystem services and serve as a safe haven for native plants and wildlife. To combat prairie loss there has been a series of prairie restoration projects taking place around the greater Dayton area. While these projects are great at bringing back native wildlife there has been no real criteria established to measure how well these restoration projects have boosted biodiversity at higher trophic levels. We were interested to see if any invertebrates that live in the litter or soil could indicate successful prairie restoration. We tested whether there was a difference in the communities of ground dwelling insects between both native prairies and restored prairies to see if there is a group or species of insects that we can use as a measurement of restoration success. We used a transect of pitfall traps to collect insects at each of 12 field sites. These pitfalls collected invertebrates for roughly a week, and then they were brought back to the lab and identified to order. We found that both snails as well as isopods are significantly more abundant at remnant sites, likely because these species have low levels of dispersal so they take a long time to get to restored sites. These two groups have potential to be used as indicator species to show restoration success of prairies in the Miami Valley.
Primary Advisor's Department
Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences
"Insects as an indicator? How unwanted and overlooked creatures in litter can be a useful tool to indicate prairie restoration success" (2023). Stander Symposium Projects. 3152.
Presentation: 10:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Kennedy Union Ballroom