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The creative mosaic - a potential role for microarthropods in determining prairie restoration success.
Heneghan, Liam1, Rauschenberg, Carlton1, Opiola, Angela1, 1
ABSTRACT- Microarthropod populations are patchily distributed on small spatial scales. Such small variations in the distribution of microarthropods can result in modified patterns of nutrient mobilization. Some plant species, very often the subdominants in an assemblage, are known to forage for small nutrient "hotspots". Without this scaffolding they may be lost to the system. We report on a series of observations and experiments attempting to link the fine-grained distribution of microarthropods, and their role in creating a mosaic of nutrient availability, to the structure of plant assemblages. These include:1. Distribution of microarthropods from prairie sites that vary in their degree of disturbance. 2. Nutrient mobilization patterns from laboratory microcosms with fauna derived from a series of prairie sites targeted for restoration . 3. A greenhouse experiment examining the growth of prairie plant mixes in "mini-landscapes" with and without fauna. We will discuss the significance of the faunally derived nutrient hotspots for restoration success.
KEY WORDS: microarthropods, nutrient mobilization, restoration