Tuesday, August 8, 1:30-5:00 pm
COS 44 - Grassland ecology II
Heritage Ballroom IV, Marriott
Presiders: J Ely

Reconstructed or native prairies: does it make a difference for plant-insect herbivore interactions?

Molano-Flores, Brenda*,1, 1 Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, IL

ABSTRACT- Due to the decline of the tallgrass prairie as the result of anthropogenic altercations, prairie reconstructions have become an option to increase the size of this habitat. Nonetheless questions remain as to whether all taxa and interactions can be re-established in these reconstructed prairies. In a four year study (2001-2004), I investigated whether the plant-insect interaction between the prairie plant Eryngium yuccifolium and the gelichiid moth Coleotechnites eryngiella differs between native and reconstructed prairies and how prescribed burns affect this plant-insect interaction. Data were collected from 20 E. yuccifolium populations (10 native/10 reconstructed prairies) in Illinois with different prescribed burn histories. For each population, percent seed set and percent ovule/seed herbivory were determined. No differences were found between native and reconstructed prairies for seed set or ovule/seed herbivory. Populations in sites where prescribed burns were conducted had higher seed set and lower levels of ovule/seed herbivory than sites without prescribed burns. Even though prescribed burns had a negative impact on C. eryngiella the year of the burn, it recovered the following year. This study shows that the management conducted at a prairie has a greater impact on prairie plant-insect interactions than whether the prairie is native or reconstructed.

Key words: native prairies, prescribed burns, reconstructed prairies

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