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Tuesday, February 7 • 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Poster Display. Vegetation Diversity and Connectedness in Ditches Across Northwest Ohio

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AUTHORS: Hannah Olenik, MS Applied Geospatial Science '18, Bowling Green State University; Ashlee Nichter, MS Geology '17, Bowling Green State University; Andrew Gregory, Assistant Professor of Spatial Ecology and GRASE Research Lab, Bowling Green State Research Lab

ABSTRACT: Since European settlement, prairie ecosystems have been in decline due to increasing anthropogenic use of these landscapes, principally for cultivation. However, a common feature of cultivated landscapes is the occurrence of remnant natural or near natural vegetation found as linear habitat features along ditches and field margins. Quixotically, given the prevalence of these features, they may actually be the best native vegetation reserve remaining in northwest Ohio. We examined the degree to which these marginal natural vegetation remnants contain and preserve native biodiversity relative to existing reserve areas across northwest Ohio. In the summer of 2016, we collected data from 46 ditches in Wood and Lucas County and 10 sample sites within the Dorr-Irwin Prairie Reserve at the Toledo Metroparks in Ohio. We sampled herbaceous vegetation diversity using point intercept methodology, and vegetation composition/density using Daubenmire Frame and Robel Pole sampling schemes. We found that linear natural vegetation remnants had higher native species richness than reserves, with ditches and field margins containing 46 native species and reserves containing 31 native species. However, reserve sites did contain a significantly higher concentration of native species compared to ditches. Because our study system of ditches and field margins is highly interconnected, our findings can have possible contributions to Meta-population biology, investigating whether reserve areas do serve as sources of native diversity found in, or whether this dendritic system of linear habitat features is autonomous and drives its own diversity. Our data also can contribute to the SLOSS debate, by adding further empirical evidence to long-standing theoretical findings.

Tuesday February 7, 2017 6:00pm - 9:00pm CST
Lancaster Ballroom