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Ecological Section

Jog, Suneeti [1], Questad, Erin [2], Fritts, Stephanie [1], Kindscher, Kelly [1], Foster, Bryan [2], Loring, Hillary [1].

Are Patchy Prairie Plant Populations Actually Metapopulations?

Tallgrass prairie remnants form an extremely patchy network of habitat fragments in a potentially inhospitable matrix of agricultural fields dominated by cool-season grasses, soybean, corn, and wheat. We sampled forty patches of warm-season native prairie remnants in northeast Kansas. Only 1% of the original prairie in this region of Kansas now remains as warm-season hay meadows or warm-season pastures. We applied incidence-based metapopulation models to understand spatial dynamics of prairie species. Habitat heterogeneity caused by long term management practices (grazing versus mowing) influences occurrence of species in these patches. Disturbance regimes form differential suitability of habitat for conservative and ruderal species. We looked at occupancy of 254 species in 20 patches of warm-season hay meadows and 256 species in 20 patches of warm-season pastures. We estimated colonization and extinction rates of species based on patch distance and patch size of these prairie remnants. Our results indicate that only a few prairie specialists follow metapopulation dynamics and have rapidly decreasing extinction probabilities with increasing patch size, while many others exist as regional ensembles. Further loss of native prairies and habitat fragmentation will lead to decrease in patch size and increase in patch isolation causing extirpation of those species which exist as metapopulations. Understanding spatial dynamics of prairie species is crucial in landscape management and conservation.

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1 - Kansas Biological Survery, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2101 Constant Avenue, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 66047, USA
2 - University of Kansas, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2045 Haworth Hall, Lawrence, Kansas, 66047, USA

incidence function model

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 9-1
Location: Salon A - Gov Ballroom/Hilton
Date: Monday, August 15th, 2005
Time: 10:15 AM
Abstract ID:274

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