Valerie Thurston, Michaela Woods, Madelaine Gregory, Ryan McEwan


Presentation: 9:00-10:15, Kennedy Union Ballroom



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Ecological restoration of degraded lands, such as abandoned agricultural fields, often requires establishing native species in challenging environmental conditions. The interruption of this process by invasive species, such as Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana), in the United States poses a significant obstacle to native plant reestablishment. Woody invasive species like Callery pear outcompete native plants, creating favorable conditions for invasion and rendering post-agricultural fields unsuitable for native species establishment. Traditional methods for controlling invasive species require consistent upkeep and observation, but in tallgrass prairies, increasing the diversity and abundance of plants has shown some ability to decrease the number of invasive species in the area. In collaboration with community partners at Five Rivers Metroparks, initiated an experiment on a 30-acre parcel of post-agricultural land in Trotwood, Ohio. Twenty 50 x 50m plots were established, each receiving one of four prairie seed mixes with varying levels of species diversity and legume content (n = 5 / seed treatment). These plots were further subdivided and treated with one of four soil amendments: mulch, whole soil, mulch & whole soil, and a control with no amendment. A vegetation survey conducted in the summer of 2023 to assess the state of the plant community. After around 5 years, we have found that there is still a significantly smaller presence of invasive species compared to native species. There is also a higher species richness in the higher diversity seed mix plots than the lower diversity seed mix plots, which shows some success in the different seed mixes. The research conducted continues to help gain a better understanding of the complex problem surrounding native restoration projects, particularly in the Midwest, and our ability to defend landscapes against invasion.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research

Primary Advisor

Ryan McEwan

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

Drivers of Prairie Establishment during Post-Agricultural Ecosystem Restoration in Southwestern Ohio, USA