SER MWGL member Karen Glennemeier, and colleagues Stephen Packard, and Greg Spyreas recently published in PLOS ONE results of their 34-year study documenting plant community change in Vestal Grove in the Somme Prairie Grove forest preserve in Cook County, Illinois.  Somme Prairie Grove is a 7-acre oak woodland that is part of the Cook County Forest Preserve District.

Glennemeier is an ecologist with Habitat Research, LLC, Packard is a restoration ecologist and land steward of Somme Prairie Grove; Spyreas is a research scientist at the Illinois Natural History Survey who focuses on plant ecology and botany.

Study Objectives:

Quoting from the PLOS ONE paper, the objectives of this study were as follows:

“To learn how a degraded oak woodland’s plant community changed under a long-term, multi-treatment, ecological management regime.
To investigate which of five common metrics would best quantify management success/failure and restoration progress over the life of the study, as measured by the plant community’s diversity and conservation value.
To learn how an abrupt, mid-study cessation of the management treatments affected the woodland recovery.
To evaluate the ability of the five metrics to reflect this mid-study disruption in management, as quickly detecting and adjusting to change is the key to successful restoration work (i.e., adaptive management).
To address these four objectives, we analyzed a 34-year vegetation data set from an oak woodland in northeastern Illinois that received the following treatments: regular prescribed fire, invasive species removal/control, brush cutting, stand thinning, deer population management, and seeding of native plants.”

The authors summarized, in part, the results of their their study:

“This study adds to the growing body of work demonstrating the effectiveness of ecological management of oak woodlands that includes regular fire, control of invasive species and overabundant deer, and repeated additions of a diverse seed mix”.

To read the full PLOS ONE paper, click here.