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1 July 2005 Vegetation Height and Quality of Original and Reconstructed Tallgrass Prairies
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To quantitatively compare vegetation height of original and restored prairies, and to explore the relationship between quality and vegetation height, we measured visual obstruction, the tallest nearby stem and vertical structure (density of stems at 50, 100 and 150 cm heights) in six remnant, six reconstructed tallgrass prairies and two former pastures. Reconstructed prairies in the Chicago, IL, region included two that were planted and four that were seeded. There were significant differences among sites within the four prairie types for all measures of structure. Type accounted for 39%, 41% and 40% of the variation in visual obstruction (VO), tallest nearby stem (LT) and the graminoid stem density at 1.0 m, respectively. Fields dominated by agricultural grasses had the lowest mean heights, VO = 32 cm, LT = 71 cm. Remnant original prairies had a mean VO of 44 cm and an LT of 130 cm. Planted reconstructed prairies had a mean VO of 54 cm and an LT of 125 cm, while seeded reconstructed prairies were significantly taller, VO = 86 cm and LT = 174 cm, and denser at the 1.0 m height than the other types. Original prairie had mean stem densities of 13 grasses and 4 forbs m−2 at 1.0 m. Seeded reconstructions had 50 grass and 5 forb stems m−2 at 1.0 m, so the seeded restorations taller, thicker and grassier than remnants of original prairie. Subjective and species richness estimates of prairie quality were highly positively correlated with one another, as were most of the height and density variables. In both original prairies and seeded reconstructions, shorter prairies have higher quality.

REBECCA L. AMMANN and DENNIS W. NYBERG "Vegetation Height and Quality of Original and Reconstructed Tallgrass Prairies," The American Midland Naturalist 154(1), 55-66, (1 July 2005).[0055:VHAQOO]2.0.CO;2
Accepted: 1 January 2005; Published: 1 July 2005

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