Wildlife Ecology Final Project

By: Nichole Moody

Prairie Conservation Field Trip - Peru, IA

I feel that it would be a mixture of both reconstruction and restoration, and the natural process of ecological succession. There were parts where invasive species had to be taken out from the prairie, because the invasive species were taking over the prairie and blocking room for the natural prairies plants from growing . There were other parts though where they allowed the prairie to grow on it's own without any help from human hands. Although the owner of the land would sometimes take seeds from the native plants, and throw them out farther out so that the plants would grow out farther faster.

Kuehn Conservation

Kuehn Conservation is a 600+ acre protecting 50-acres of key inholding at the entrance of Kuehn Conservation Area in Dallas County. Balance the established woodland with a converted grassland, increasing species diversity and further protecting the water quality of the Middle Raccoon River.


INHF is reseeding the land to native prairie which will help greatly to increase the open habitat of Kuehn Conservation Area and create ideal space for grassland-loving birds and wildlife. The transition from cropland to prairie benefits the water quality of the Raccoon River, the water source for Des Moines Water works and the Des Moines Metropolitan Area.

INHF Stand Points

What do you think is most impactful for prairie native species within Kuehn addition? - INHF Stand Point

What do you think is most impactful for prairie native species within Kuehn addition?

The biggest and best thing we can do for native prairie is to let it thrive. Unfortunately, a lot of prairie is displaced by other non-native species or other brush (such as trees and shrubs) taking over the area. This is caused by a lack of natural processes that occurred prior to settlement, such as fire and unintroduced non-native species. In order for us to let prairie thrive, we need to start incorporating the natural management that took place before settlement, by introducing fire to a native prairie again and removing the unwanted/undesirable species (tree, shrubs, etc.). Eventually the areas that once had prairie (as long as the originally seed is still present and the area wasn’t farmed, sprayed or paved), prairie will begin to take back its place.

Human Help or Ecological Succession Within 50 Acre Addition - INHF Stand Point

Within this specific area, there are areas that are currently being farmed and our plan is to eventually return the area to prairie. Humans will need to come in and seed the area with native prairie seed and manage for any unwanted/invasive species, like honeysuckle. Because these invasive species are already present on the property, we will have to actively remove the species in hopes of helping the prairie and native species return and thrive. After managing for invasive species, the native species will eventually start to return and we can incorporate fire into killing and preventing more honeysuckle (and other invasive species) from encroaching and establishing on the property.

Is it better to have human intervention, or no human intervention to protect and sustain biodiversity and why? - INHF Stand Point

The stewardship and management at Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation focuses on a combination of human intervention and natural processes to encourage native species to thrive, while allowing nature to do what it does best. Unfortunately, humans have offset the natural process of many ecosystems, especially native prairie, (resulting in less fires and more non-native species introductions) so it is sometimes essential for humans to be a part of converting the natural areas back to their original setting.

My Argument

My Argument - Ecological Succession vs. Human Help & Ecological Succession

I believe that a mixture of both is probably the best thing, because out of all nature conservation projects all over the country that you look up. They all have some type human help. Whether it's they came in and had to take out some type of invasive plant within the project, or they had to do some type of constructive work to get the land back to what it should be.


We have changed the land so much from what it use to be, that if we just allowed it to grow without any help, it wouldn't really do that well without some type of help. I get that there might be parts that would do a good job of growing native plant life without human help, but there are parts that will just grow out of control if it wasn't helped by human hands.


When doing a conservation project, I feel that there is no way to do the project without some type of human contact. Just because there's not really any way to get the land back to it's former glory without human help. Especially if we have the resources to make the conservation project available in the first place, especially if we can make it happen faster. Instead of making it happen over years, we could make it happen in just a few months.

Resources

http://www.inhf.org/what-we-do/protection/support-current-projects/kuehn-conservation-area-addition/


Anita from INHF & Melanie Louis

-They helped answers some of my questions