Boots On The Ground Conservation


  • Are Botanists Ruining Prairies

    Conserving prairies full of conservative plants makes sense for the larger conservation effort. Right?  Because prairies with lots of rare plants also have lots of rare insects, rare bird species, etc.  Right?  Well – maybe not.  In fact, while there are a few instances in which that’s true there are many more cases where it’s not.


  • Benefits to burning prairie in fall and winter

    A new study looks at 20 years of data concerning the consequences of burning Flint Hills prairie at different times of the year. It finds that burning outside of the current late spring time frame has no measurable negative consequences for the prairie, and in fact, may have multiple benefits.


  • A Metaphor for Prairie Restoration

    Prairie restoration can be a powerful tool for grassland conservation, but we’re not taking advantage of its full potential.  Too often, we think and talk about prairie restoration (aka prairie reconstruction) in the wrong way.  Instead of trying to restore an ecosystem, we try to reproduce history. Read more...

  • Photo of the Week – December 11, 2014

    A katydid on stiff goldenrod.  Frequent readers of The Prairie Ecologist will remember that you can distinguish a katydid from a grasshopper by its very long antenna.

    A katydid on stiff goldenrod. A katydid, unlike a grasshopper, has very long antennae.

  • How to Evaluate a Prairie

    Walking around a prairie and getting a read on what's happening is probably the most important part of prairie management.  This is Scott Moats, The Nature Conservancy's Broken Kettle Grasslands, Iowa.

    The most challenging aspect of prairie management may be evaluating what’s happening on the land and what to do about it.  What should you focus on as you walk around a prairie?  Which plant species can tell you the most about the current condition of the prairie community?  How do you know whether changes in the plant community are short term weather-related changes, versus an indication of a long term trend?

    You can find a most interesting discussion of site evaluation here and here.

  • The Hooting Season

    Now is the time to enjoy great horned owls setting up their nesting territories. Photo: © Nick Hall for The Nature Conservancy

    Now is the time to enjoy great horned owls setting up their nesting territories. In this season of cold, snow and holiday music, the North American bird breeding and nesting season seems months away.It’s not until the trees begin to bud and flowers bloom that the birdsong fills the air.

    And that’s true. But not for great horned owls.

  • The Challenge of Biodiversity Conservation

    LEAF interns Sharon Tam and Keira Adams have fun battling invasive invasive sweet clover (Melilotus sp.) on Santa Cruz Island, California. Photo credit: © Erika Nortemann/TNC.

    Every day, we are barraged by headlines reminding us of the urgency for conservation organizations to enhance their effectiveness in protecting – and re-creating – places for nature in an increasingly crowded, constrained and changing world.

  • Photo of the Week – December 4, 2014

    A small snapping turtle.  The Nature Conservancy's Platte River Prairies.

    When I photograph small creatures, I often try to position myself so I can look right into their eyes.  I like face-to-face images because they feel very personal.  One of the most important catalysts of conservation is the personal connection people feel with nature and the species we share the planet with.  It’s one thing to see a caterpillar from a distance, but when you look into its eyes…  well, they’re just so darn cute!  It’s a lot harder to step on something or plow up its habitat once you’ve met it face to face.

  • Wanna Know What Really Makes A Sunflower Lose its Head?

    Weevil damage

    Nearly-decapitated sunflower heads, scattered across the prairie.  Oh, the devastation!  Who could be carrying out such an evil plan?

    (Ok, more accurately, a weevil plan?)