Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Relief in 92 degrees


Never mind that my drinking water was so hot I could have made instant oatmeal in my Nalgene bottle, or that no cloud availed itself to us all day on the south facing slope, thereby causing much sweat production which invariably resulted in salty beads dripping into my eyes and onto my sampling pages. I was so happy to be away from the truly sad, overgrazed, destroyed public prairies of southwest Missouri, so thrilled to be back at my first Missouri love, the beautiful Ozark glades and woodlands chocked with so many conservative forbs that 9 hours in the blearing sun was like Christmas morning. Every .25 m2 was a delight.


Officially, I'm measuring fire effects on glades this season, but really I'm tracking restoration, following glades from the first year after a major cedar cutting exercise to 3, 4, and hopefully more years out. Maximizing biodiversity (what cowboys call forage) is the priority. I'm happy as a clam to be situated so close to a site so full of native integrity that across all glades, forbs with a CC value of 6 or higher constitute 73% of the total vegetation cover. Awesome site. My ashes will be scattered there.

Actually, today's sampling of 4 paired 50 m transects was particularly fun since each transect area on the glade was burned at different times of the year--long strips burned in the growing season 2010, fall, winter, and spring. Looking out across the glade, it doesn't look like a Frankenstein of management regimes. Today, Houstonia nigricans, Echinacea paradoxa, Heliotropium tenellum and Lobelia spicata bloomed across all transects rather uniformly. The peak blooms of glade coneflower occurred a couple of weeks ago, but it was refreshing to see seedheads crashed to the ground with mature seeds hitting the soil. But the fine detail of quadrat sampling revealed a different story, with certain grasses only showing up in two transects, certain forbs in others, and similar variations. I haven't run the analysis to determine the Relative Importance Value across all physiognomic taxa (but I will, and soon. I hate it when data piles up.), but the results should be fascinating. Of course, I've been a firm believer in a diverse fire regime since Day 1, so the analysis won't convince me to burnat different return intervals, different intensities and different seasons--I know that. But it will be interesting to see the vegetation data.


Not wanting anyone to break into my car and steal my sweaty data sheets, I brought them into my 86 degree bungalow for the night for safekeeping. Here's a sample from one small quadrat, with the numbers representing cover values. (This will be scroll over-worthy to most people, but this is for the three people I know who will appreciate it):

ECH PAR 20
KUH EUP 2
EUP COR 2
AND SCO 25
SPO ASP 3
HEL TEN 5
LOB SPI 1
POL SAN 2
RUD MIS 12
HOU NIG 8
AND GER 6
SOL GAT 7
SOL NEM 1
ELE COM 6
AST SER 2

Almost every plot of the day was like this. Isn't it fun?

So, I lost three pounds of water weight today on the glades, but tracking recovery from the years of extractive abuse (light here, actually, but cows in the 1950s) in such a rich site makes up for the 25% cover values of ragweed and 75% trash goat barn plants in the prairies in the Osage Plains.



2 comments:

James C. Trager said...

"Since Day 1"? Wow - It is a young earth!

Is that a Zigadenus in the picture with the little black ants (Monomorium minimum) in the flowers?

Allison Vaughn said...

Good eye! I try to get little moving things in my pictures.It's actually an Asclepias stenophylla...