Prairie Revegetation of a Strip Mine in Illinois: Fifteen Years after Establishment

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Abstract

We examined the long-term success of prairie planting on a former strip mine in northeastern Illinois. The site was reclaimed and planted with prairie species in the 1970s. Total biomass increased over time, largely as a result of an increase in biomass of non-prairie species. Biomass of prairie species remained unchanged because of an increase in Panicum virgatum (switchgrass) offsetting decreases in Sorghastrum nutans (Indian grass). Total biomass was less than values published for other restored prairies (78 ± 4 g/m2to 298 ± 72 g/m2 for our site, as opposed to 302-489 g/m2 for the Trelease Prairie). Mycorrhizal inoculum potential (MIP) was variable across the site. There were also relatively few species of mycorrhizal fungi present as spores. Gigaspora sp., Scutellospora sp., Glomus sp., Glomus geosporum, and Glomus cf. fasciculatum were identified from spores. On a transect dominated by warm-season (C4) prairie grasses, MIP of rhizosphere soil collected under these species was lower than the MIP of rhizosphere soil collected under exotic cool-season (C3) grasses on a transect dominated by C3 species. On a transect with mixed warm-and cool-season vegetation, however, MIP did not differ under the two vegetation types. These results suggest that within-site patchiness rather than cover type is influencing MIP. Values of MIP were lower than those reported for native Illinois prairie.

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