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Gordon Brown


Prairies once covered vast areas of the Midwestern United States. In Minnesota, less than one percent of the state's original eighteen million acres of prairie remains. Restoration of prairie vegetation has become a popular means of augmenting preservation efforts and increasing the area of this rare native habitat. In this study I used species-area and rank abundance relationships to compare the species richness and diversity of restored prairies at St. John's University and Sand Prairie to remnant prairie preserves at Roscoe and Sand Prairie (all in Stearns County, Minnesota). I visually estimated relative abundance at each site using randomly placed 0.25m2 quadrats within representative areas of a uniform vegetation type. I derived species-area relationships using a series of enclosing quadrats that increased in size. Roscoe prairie had higher species richness and greater diversity than any other remnant or restoration project; however, the slopes of the species-area relationship of the Roscoe and Sand Prairie remnants were similar. The Sand Prairie remnant had greater species richness than did the Sand Prairie and St. Johnís restoration projects at small (1 ñ 10 m2) scales, but the slopes of the species-area relationship for the two restoration projects were significantly greater than those of the remnants. The two restored prairies exhibited similar patterns of diversity and richness across most prairie types. These results suggest differences in the species-area relationships between remnant and restored prairies, and that simple inventories often used to track the success of restorations may be augmented by the inclusion of species-area relationships.

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