Grassland restoration project | Department of Biological Sciences

Grassland restoration project

Grasslands are important habitat for many pollinators, who depend on the floral resources they provide. In the Cross Timbers ecoregion of northern Texas and southern Oklahoma, such grasslands are rapidly disappearing due in part to fire suppression and the spread of invasive grasses. In early 2018 we implemented restoration at 10 sites across this region via prescribed fires and wildflower seeding. We aimed to reduce encroachment by trees and to remove grass cover to provide space for diverse flowering plants and native grasses to establish. This project is assessing how such restoration impacts diverse pollinators, including bees, beetles, butterflies, flies and wasps. We are interested in how plant community changes and alteration of shelter resources (e.g., open ground for ground-nesting bees) change both pollinator biodiversity and plant visitation networks within the restored areas.

Read a write-up of the project in the Sherman-Denison Herald Democrat.

Want to help ID the plants and insects we are seeing? Follow our iNaturalist project!

Collaborators: Kristen Baum, Sean Griffin, Shalene Jha

Photos from the field

Preparing to net pollinators:

Three research assistants with insect nets

Measuring floral abundance and ground cover:

Two students collect floral data in a field

Identifying pollinators in the lab:

Two students identify pinned flies

Implementing restoration through a prescribed burn:

Dormant field with fire visible along two sides, in front of a burn line of bare earth

Field just after burning:

Field that has just been burned, with no vegetation left and blackened stubble

Wildflower seed mix:

Close-up of wildflower seed mix

2019 spring rains led to high floral abundance at our burned sites:

Native wildflowers in a Texas meadowNative wildflowers in a Texas meadow

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