barber

Dr. Nicholas Barber
Assistant Professor
Department of Biological Sciences
nbarber@niu.edu

swingley

Dr. Wesley Swingley
Assistant Professor

Department of Biological Sciences
wswingley@niu.edu



Summary: The Nachusa Grasslands is a 1,200-ha preserve, owned and operated by The Nature Conservancy, consisting of historic prairie remnants and ongoing prairie restoration plots. Restorations started in the mid-1980s and have continued annually, yielding more than 100 individual restored plots across the property. Because of the high native plant diversity (700+ species established), Nachusa is considered one of the most successful and highest-quality grassland restorations in the world. Furthermore, the management personnel at Nachusa welcome and support scientific research in the preserve (coordinated through Nachusa superintendent Bill Kleiman).

Working with Nachusa staff, Dr. Barber and Dr. Swingley have established a network of study sites, consisting of 12 prairie restoration plots (ranging from 0-26 years old), two prairie remnants, and a farm field currently in seed corn cultivation. The chosen restoration plots minimize differences in soil type, restoration quality, and plant community composition, and represent a chronosequence, in which sites of different age are used to test how a system changes over time. The Nachusa chronosequence is a target of multiple NIU researchers studying the effect of restoration on a wide range of organisms, including birds, small mammals, snakes, ground beetles, and insect pollinators. We would like to extend this work by analyzing microbial populations that likely drive biochemical changes after restoration in Nachusa soils. Click here to Read more...