Volker Bahn (Committee Member), Greg Dahlem (Committee Member), Tom Rooney (Committee Member), John Stireman (Advisor)
Master of Science (MS)
The ability of organisms to disperse to, utilize, and persist in novel habitats in a fragmented landscape is vital to the success of many ecosystem restoration and construction efforts. With less than four percent of original tallgrass prairie persisting across its range, conservationists have made efforts to both protect and restore remnant prairies as well as to plant new prairies. Previous studies suggest that restored ecosystems do not support the same levels of biodiversity and ecosystems services as their remnant counterparts. In this study I measured tachinid fly diversity and orthopteran parasitism rates in order to assess ecological similarity of remnant and constructed prairie fragments and old fields in western Ohio. Tachinid abundance and richness did not differ among the three site types. Plant richness was the only significant predictor of tachinid richness. Community ordination, while not significant, suggests that old field sites may have more shared species, while both prairie types may support more variable tachinid communities. Significant differences in tachinid abundance were found between habitat edges and interiors for all habitat types. This trend was especially pronounced in constructed prairies, where roughly three-fourths of all individuals were captured in edge traps, indicating that the interiors of these sites may be poorly colonized. Grasshopper parasitism rates were significantly lower in constructed prairies than in remnant prairies and old fields, suggesting that prairie planting efforts may not be successful in restoring more intricate ecological interactions. These findings demonstrate the need to consider not only taxonomic diversity but also biological interactions and ecosystem function in evaluating the success of restoration efforts.
Department or Program
Department of Biological Sciences
Year Degree Awarded
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