GLOBE Interns Allison Beardsley (L) and Brittany Sheridan (R) look on as Grassland Monitoring Biologist Maggi Sliwinski identifies plants along a vegetation transect in the Sheyenne Delta of North Dakota.
This summer Allison Beardsley and Brittany Sheridan came to our chapter through the Conservancy’s GLOBE (Growing Leaders on Behalf of the Environment) internship program. Allison and Brittany toured many of our preserves in North Dakota and South Dakota this summer while conducting vegetation surveys for a large-scale grassland monitoring initiative. They completed 367 transects covering more than 3,600 acres of grassland from the tallgrass prairie in eastern North Dakota to the Black Hills in southwestern South Dakota.
North American prairies have experienced severe habitat loss and fragmentation over the past few decades. What little native prairie remains is under threat from numerous exotic and invasive plant species, such as Kentucky Bluegrass and Smooth Brome. At The Nature Conservancy, we manage our prairies and grasslands using techniques like burning and grazing to try to minimize the impact and spread of these invasive species. We have recently begun a large-scale monitoring and adaptive management project to discern the effectiveness of our management techniques in controlling invasive species.
The Grassland Monitoring and adaptive management project is a collaboration between the Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Standard monitoring protocols are used by all agencies to monitor thousands of acres of prairie. Data sets are pooled across agencies to accelerate learning about the impact grassland management on native and invasive plant species. The Nature Conservancy did our first surveys across Minnesota in 2008, and these sites were resurveyed last summer. In 2009 we expanded the survey to include many of our preserves in North and South Dakota. This was an exciting summer for the project because it marked the completion of two rounds of monitoring surveys on all of our sites across Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.
September 27, 2012
Marissa Ahlering is the lead Prairie Ecologist for the Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. She oversees the Grassland Monitoring Team's work on behalf of the Conservancy.