Authors: Melissa Hinten*, University of Tennessee
Topics: Land Use and Land Cover Change, Biogeography
Keywords: land use/land cover change, grasslands, habitat fragmentation, remnants
Session Type: Guided Poster
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Roosevelt 3.5, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded
Our study quantified the loss and fragmentation of tallgrass prairie vegetation in northeastern Oklahoma, between the pre-settlement period and 2008. We determined that there was a clustered distribution of remnant fragments on the landscape. The remnant fragments that remained were native tallgrass prairie hay meadows and rangelands that were remnants of a once contiguous tallgrass prairie landscape. We found that the total landscape area of tallgrass prairie vegetation decreased by 85% from the pre-settlement period to 2008 and the number of remnant tallgrass prairie patches quadrupled from 1896 to 2008. Large remnant tallgrass prairie patches are maintained as cattle grazing operations found mostly on nonarable land. However, the majority of small remnant patches were native hay meadows maintained for annual hay production, and were found on arable land. Native hay meadows are a low input farming practice that are important reservoirs of biodiversity. Within the study region native hay meadows are potential habitats for rare tallgrass prairie species, such as Oklahoma grass pink (Calopogon oklahomensis), western prairie fringed orchid (Platanthera praeclara), and the endemic Oklahoma beardtongue (Penstemon oklahomensis). Threats to protecting native hay meadows include conversion to more intensive and profitable land uses, which include urban expansion of the Tulsa metropolitan area, crop production, and the introduction of non-native forage crops, such as tall fescue (Schedonorus phoenix).