Preserving the Prairie Community

Woodworth Prairie’s mission is to maintain populations of native prairie plant and animal species as a functioning ecosystem.  A major focus of management is Revitalization. Revitalization focuses on reversing past and present anthropogenic abuse, on the complete removal of non-native species, regulating over-abundant native species and manipulating processes to mimic the patterns of those processes before the landscape was dominated by human economic activity.

Anthropogenic Abuse

Types of Species

Pastor Rose

 Living Species (non-native)

Goal: Control of non-native species

Woodworth Prairie wants only native prairie species on the site. 

Living Species (native)

Environmental circumstances favor some species and hurt others. Fire suppression in particular favors woody plants over prairie vegetation. Humans have altered the environment and actions by stewards counteract those effects. A native plant, gray dogwood, needs a fair amount of control to keep the prairie from undergoing a natural process of succession into a shrub land. 

Techniques of plant species removal

While not philosophically opposed to the use of herbicides, management of JWP tries to find ways to eliminate exotic species without using these powerful chemicals. The techniques include: pulling, cutting, digginggirdling and PROCESSES

For some species, herbicide is the preferred method. At JWP, reed canary grass is the most abundant exotic species. It and the following species are normally controlled with glyphosate; Lily-of-the-Valley, Smooth brome, Soapwort, and Daylily.

 

Interpretation Center (IC) Garden

The garden surrounding the IC has long served as a place where many of the species characteristics of black-soil prairie could be observed. Another purpose has been added. At least some of the prairie species that are rare in the prairie have been grown in the garden. Included are Geum triflorumKrigia bifloraSphenopholis obtusata, Viola pedatifida and others. Seeds from these garden plants will hopefully supplement the small populations of these species.

White tubes marked seedlings planted in the garden. Blooming Phlox pilosa was planted as seedlings in a prior year.

Processes

Learn about the processes that the Woodworth Prairie goes through.

Fire

burning

Fire is a natural phenomenon which undoubtedly became more frequent after humans first occupied our area, but today humans put them out.

Water

People drain land for many reasons. Illinois was a wet place before ditching and tiling.

Grazing

Large grazers are gone, but cottontails and voles are abundant.

Material Inputs

Humans use many elements. Our use has increased amounts of metals and other elements in our environment and may be called eutrophication. Nitrogen deposition, from anthropogenic sources, has become a major factor in the eutrophication of terrestrial ecosystems near urban areas. Dry deposition of Nitrogen Oxides is an important source of anthropogenic ecosystem change, particularly near major highways.

Eutrophication

Traditionally, eutrophication has been used to describe algal blooms in lakes resulting from increased inputs of phosphorous or nitrogen. Humans have increased the concentration of many other elements as well. Iron, Fe, is an example. The amounts in soil have increased because of the widespread use of iron and its quick oxidation. Many other metals are much more available to plants and animals than they were hundreds of years ago. Metals are an essential part of many enzymes. We know little about which species are affected by increased metals.