Kilroy, Hayley .
Do tallgrass prairie remnants owe an extinction debt?
In eastern Kansas, less than 1% of native tallgrass prairie remains, and what is left exists in highly-fragmented prairie hay meadows. In such a fragmented system, island biogeography theory predicts that species richness will be affected by area and isolation of fragmented sites, while competition-colonization theory predicts that the best competitors (poor dispersers) deterministically go extinct as a result of habitat destruction and fragmentation. The lag time between fragmentation and non-random extinction events is known as an “extinction debt.”
Between 2004 and 2009, the Kansas Natural Heritage Inventory program surveyed 350 native prairies in five counties in eastern Kansas. A floristic quality index (FQI) was used to rank the ‘quality’ (relative conservatism) of plant communities in all sites. Patch and regional characteristics of sites, such as area, isolation, and the amount of grassland in the surrounding landscape matrix, affect species richness and floristic quality of prairies. Regional characteristics also affect whether or not sites contain a federally-threatened plant, Mead’s milkweed (Asclepias meadii). Plant species differ in their sensitivities to area and isolation effects, suggesting that tallgrass prairies are paying off an extinction debt.
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1 - University of Kansas, Kansas Biological Survey and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Higuchi Hall, 2101 Constant Ave., Lawrence, KS, 66047, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Location: 552A/Convention Center
Date: Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010
Time: 4:00 PM