Abstract: A restoration project was initiated in 2007 to convert a forested section of Crowders Mountain State Park in North Carolina to a prairie ecosystem using primarily local seed material. All vascular species were identified during 4 growing seasons (2008–2011) and species richness, diversity, evenness, and guild structure were assessed. Prairie quality and community structure of the restored site were compared with 2 remnant prairie sites. Seventy-nine species were documented in the restored prairie with 66 (83%) of those being species associated with other Carolina prairie communities. Big bluestem ( Andropogon gerardii Vitman (Poaceae)) and velvet witch grass ( Dichanthelium scoparium (Lamarck) Gould (Poaceae)) had the highest cover values, while blackberry ( Rubus argutus Link (Rosaceae)) and velvet witch grass had the highest frequency for the restored prairie. Species richness, diversity, and evenness were higher or not significantly different for the restored prairie compared with the 2 remnant sites. The woody, C 3 grasses, and legume guilds for the restored prairie also had species richness levels that were higher or not significantly different from the remnant sites. In addition, percent cover for the woody, C 3 grasses, and legume guilds for the restored prairie were higher or not significantly different from the remnant sites. The results of this study indicate that the restoration of a Piedmont prairie at Crowders Mountain State Park has been successful in its early establishment period.
Native Plants Journal – University of Wisconsin Press
Published: Aug 29, 2013