Tag Archives: research

Assessing Prairie Restoration Through the Eyes of Small Mammals – Part 1

We’ve taken another step in the right direction… Over the last several years, we’ve begun to evaluate our prairie restoration work beyond just looking at plant communities.  Our primary objective for restoration is to functionally enlarge and reconnect fragmented remnant (unplowed) prairies by restoring the land … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Animals, Prairie Insects, Prairie Management, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Restoration/Reconstruction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Bison Good, Cattle Bad??

Among some prairie enthusiasts, there seems to be a perception that plains bison are magical creatures that live in complete harmony with the prairie.  They eat grasses but not wildflowers, they float just above the ground to avoid stepping on plants or … Continue reading

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Embracing Unpredictability in Prairie Management

Much of what determines the outcome of prairie management treatments is out of our control.  Sure, we can decide when to burn a prairie or set the timing and stocking rate for grazing treatments, but cascades of interactions between countless factors such as weather, … Continue reading

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Wildfire Recovery at The Niobrara Valley Preserve – Spring Green Up

Spring is finally changing the color of The Nature Conservancy’s Niobrara Valley Preserve in north central Nebraska.  After last summer’s wildfire and drought, much of the Preserve was barren and brown all winter.   Now, the area has had several small rainfalls during the last couple months, followed by a hard 3 … Continue reading

Posted in General, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography, Prairie Plants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Tuning Into Fire Frequency

HOW OFTEN SHOULD PRAIRIES BE BURNED? It’s a question prairie ecologists and managers have been wrestling with for many years.  Unfortunately, research on the impacts of fire management is somewhat limited and often contradictory.  Much of the best research has … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Animals, Prairie Insects, Prairie Management, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Plants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Is Poison Hemlock Repelled By Plant Diversity? Early Results Say Yes

How important is plant diversity?  Most ecologists think it’s a critical component of resilient ecosystems.  Last week I collected some data that lends support to that view.  In some experimental prairie plantings we’ve established in our Platte River Prairies, plant diversity appears to be suppressing the invasion … Continue reading

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Lessons From a Project to Improve Prairie Quality – Part 1: Patch-Burn Grazing, Plant Diversity, and Butterflies

We recently completed a large multi-year restoration and management project at our Platte River Prairies.  Our specific objectives were to improve habitat quality for various at-risk prairie species and evaluate the impacts of our management on at-risk butterflies – particularly … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Animals, Prairie Insects, Prairie Management, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography, Prairie Plants, Prairie Restoration/Reconstruction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Wildfire Recovery at The Niobrara Valley Preserve – Asking The Big Questions

Most of you are familiar with the wildfire that affected our Niobrara Valley Preserve this summer.  Well, we’re still trying to regain our footing after that event.  A great deal of time and money has already been spent on rebuilding … Continue reading

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Can Aphids Photosynthesize?

Well, no.  But recent research shows that at least some may be able to convert sunlight into energy in a process very similar to the way plants do it. A study published in Nature magazine back in August looked at a … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Evolution in Milkweed-Eating Insects

Not many insects can feed on milkweed.  Milkweed plants produce a toxin that disables a protein in animals – a protein that facilitates important functions such as muscle contraction.  Only a small number of insect species around the world have evolved ways to get around this … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography, Prairie Plants | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments