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Tallgrass Prairie Center

2015 Iowa Prairie Conference

The Iowa Prairie Conference is open to anyone interested in prairies. Natural resource practitioners, educators, students and prairie enthusiasts will gather for education, discussion and networking opportunities. Workshop sessions, field trips and social events are also planned. This year’s conference theme, “Working Prairies,” reflects the evolving role of prairie in today’s landscape. 

Featured plenary speakers are Doug Ladd, Land Stewardship Director of Missouri Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, and Lisa Schulte-Moore, associate professor of natural resource ecology and management at Iowa State University.  Three symposia will be offered: Writing the Tallgrass Prairie chaired by John Price; Iowa Roadsides chaired by Kristine Nemec; and Forty Years of Prairie Preservation and Restoration (commemorating Daryl Smith’s retirement) chaired by Pauline Drobney and Laura Jackson.

Daryl Smith will be recognized and honored for his more than 40 years of work on behalf of Iowa prairies and the Tallgrass Prairie Center in particular.

To submit scholarly papers for consideration or to register for the conference, please go to .  Information may also be obtained on the event Facebook page by searching “Iowa Prairie Conference 2015.”

Ecological Restoration Seminar

"Bird use of heterogeneous native prairie biofuel production plots" will be presented by Jarret Pfrimmer. 

Agricultural intensification has driven the loss of more than 90% of native grassland habitats in the Midwest. Consequently, grassland birds have declined more drastically than any other North American guild. Current biofuel production systems rely on high input monoculture crops that provide little habitat value to most grassland birds. The research investigates bird use of four diverse mixes of native prairie vegetation for biofuel production on three diverse soil types. This seminar will present data on visual breeding bird surveys and nest monitoring conducted over multiple years of growing, managing, and harvesting native prairie species for biomass production.

This seminar is free and open to the publie; light refreshments will be served.

Ecological Restoration Seminar

Anna Abney, M.S. in biology graduate candidate, will present her research findings on the effect of burn timing on insect assemblages in a recent prairie reconstruction. Refreshments will be provided.

Prescribed burning is a common management practice in prairie reconstructions, but many entomologists are concerned about the impact of burning on insect populations. The effect of fire on insects has been studied on remnant prairies, but little research has been done on reconstructed prairies, especially the first years after planting. This study examines how spring and fall prescribed burns affect the abundance and community composition of grasshoppers (Acrididae) and ground beetles (Carabidae) in a recent prairie planting.

Tallgrass Prairie Seminar

John Pearson, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, will present "Perspectives of Iowa Savannas for Restoring a Pre-Settlement Landscape." Savanna was a major plant community of early Iowa occupying more than 2.4 million acres. Types of savanna differed ranging from park-like areas with widely distributed tress interspersed with prairie vegetation and virtually no shrub layer to dense thickets of woody species within a prairie matrix with a few stunted open growth trees. Oak savanna is regarded as a high priority for conservation because no original savanna currently exists. Interest in savanna restoration is increasing, but selecting sites to restore is influenced by variety of definitions and concepts. Pearson will explore contrasting concepts in savanna posed by historic maps, modern soil surveys and floristics, and relate them to the use of 1832-1859 General Land Office surveys, Mollic Hapludalf soil maps and plant indicator species in restoration. Refreshments will be provided.

Geologic History of the Upper Mississippi River Valley & Bottomland Restoration Scenarios

Dr. E. Arthur "Art" Bettis of the University of Iowa's Department of Geoscience will outline the processes that formed the landscape of the Mississippi River valley during the last glacial period and over the past 10,000 years. Bettis will also discuss why bottomland restoration scenarios should incorporate existing information about the valley’s geomorphology to develop cost-effective projects and best management practices.

His teaching and research focus on landscape evolution during the past 2 million years. He pursues interests in the long-term behavior of eolian, fluvial and glacial systems and the impact of human activities on the landscape. His recent research involves the Homo erectus peopling and occupation of island Southeast Asia, stratigraphic and sedimentological studies of Midcontinet U.S. loess depositional systems, and the application of alluvial lithostratigraphy in stream management and restoration.

Natural Areas and Ecological Management Seminar

Molly Schlumbohm, a graduate student at the Tallgrass Prairie Center, will present "Maximizing Biomass Production of Prairie Vegetation as an Alternative Energy Source."  Schlumbohm studied four treatments to determine the best mixture of prairie vegetation to maximize the production of biomass on marginal farmland.  This biomass can be used as an alternative energy source to coal. Refreshments will be provided.

Natural Areas and Ecological Management Seminar

Carl Kurtz will discuss his native seed production process including seasonal management of the production site, harvesting method, machinery required, yield in pounds/acre and species diversity, bagging process, seed analysis and marketing strategy. Kurtz is a multi-talented naturalist and farmer who does freelance writing, photography, teaching, lecturing, tallgrass prairie reconstruction and produces native prairie seed. He is probably best known for his photography with photos appearing nationwide in more than 50 publications and is the author of Iowa’s Wild Places and A Practical Guide to Prairie Reconstruction.


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