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    Author(s): Philip J. Burton; Kenneth R. Robertson; Louis R. Iverson; Paul G. Risser
    Date: 1988
    Source: In: Allen, Edith B., ed. The reconstruction of distrubed arid lands: an ecological approach. Boulder, CO: Westview Press: 46-88.
    Publication Series: Book Chapter
    Station: Northern Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (1.0 MB)


    The natural processes responsible for the origin and maintenance of native grasslands must be understood in order to restore North American prairies effectively. Grasslands historically have predominated where the climate ranged from semiarid to mesic but with periodic droughts, and where fires repeatedly removed dead aboveground biomass and retarded encroachment of woody invaders. As in most North American ecosystems, however, the particular assemblage of species naturally found at a site is frequently of recent origin and is not necessarily a stable combination. The establishment and persistence of many mature prairie species may depend on specific soil moisture conditions that facilitate their localized competitive superiority. Both successional and climax prairie species may depend on some sort of general or local disturbances to free space for seedling establishment. Frequent disturbance in the form of fire, grazing or mowing is needed to remove standing dead plants and accumulated litter but this can cause varying effects on community composition. Established perennials are difficult to displace. Poor establishment from seed and constant invasion by exotic C3 grasses, forbs and woody plants are the most common problems in prairie restoration efforts. Successful restoration methods emphasize the use of local genotypes, transplanting to enhance floristic diversity, and the use of manual weeding and fire to control exotic species. Niche quantification may provide a means to match species more accurately to prevailing site conditions and to each other, in order to completely utilize the "resource space" so that invasion by exotics becomes less likely. The use of native C3 grasses may also reduce invasion by such exotic cool season species as Poa pratensis and Bromus inermis. Native annuals may likewise form a more acceptable cover crop than exotic weeds or cereals. Ecosystem reconstruction provides many opportunities for testing fundamental theories of community ecology, which, in turn, could further enhance future restoration efforts.

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    Burton, Philip J.; Robertson, Kenneth R.; Iverson, Louis R.; Risser, Paul G. 1988. Use of resource partitioning and disturbance regimes in the design and management of restored prairies. In: Allen, Edith B., ed. The reconstruction of distrubed arid lands: an ecological approach. Boulder, CO: Westview Press: 46-88.

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