Thursday, February 14, 2013

Classic Limestone Glade

For the past few years, I've been assisting a colleague with a fun project to map all of the glades in Missouri. Part of the mapping process involves field verification, driving down Hwy 7, Hwy 5, CR V, all over the place to check out what I think are glades to make sure they're glades and not overgrazed pastures. So far, most of the glades I've mapped have not turned out to be overgrazed horse pastures, but the propensity is there to do so as the signature for a glade is shallow bedrock and overgrazed pastures show up in infrared as shallow bedrock communities (because, of course, they've been grazed to hell).

Visiting a nice high quality limestone glade in the Warsaw country means seeing a thick thatch layer, ready for fire, Mentzelia, Isanthus, and good limestone glade signatures, including maples. Maples are so misunderstood in the Ozarks; sure, they're often a sign of fire suppression, meant to be cut and stump treated, but in certain limestone communities, they are a natural part of the landscape, especially in dry woodlands and limestone glades. They're keystone.

I especially appreciate visiting glades in the maintenance phase, after the cedar removal and burning, with successive fires at a 2-4 year interval. The slabs of rock with crinoid fossils avail themselves, the warm season grasses peak, the ruderal species sort themselves out among the signature plants that define this high quality natural community.

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