Prairie restoration is currently unpredictable, with many sites resulting in low diversity grasslands that do not fulfill expectations. As both government agencies and nongovernmental organizations look to utilize this practice on conservation and working lands (i.e. pastures and biofuels), there is an urgent need to pause and evaluate restoration outcomes. The site specific outcomes of ecological management ubiquitous in the restoration literature and the many interacting factors common to ecological problems emphasize the need for an increase in and improvement of vegetation monitoring to assess progress and predict outcomes in the long term. In 2008, in collaboration with faculty at the University of Minnesota, I developed a rapid monitoring approach for Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge, a large grassland in northwest Minnesota undergoing restoration. My goals were to reliably capture vegetation information, link outcomes to site history and utilize results to inform land manager decision-making. The rapid approach performed well in comparison with the previous effort on site. Through analysis of monitoring data, I identified several correlations among vegetation and site history parameters that were supported by the restoration literature. Restoration and reserve management professionals responded favorably to the approach in a focus group and offered suggestions for further development. With limited adjustment and testing, the rapid approach can provide goal-oriented information to land managers that will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of reserve management.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. September 2011. Major: Conservation biology. Advisor:Nicholas R. Jordan. 1 computer file (PDF); vi-49 pages, appendices A-B.
Brand, Genevieve Lorraine.
Development of a rapid monitoring approach to inform management decisions on a large tallgrass prairie undergoing restoration..
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