Advertisement

Environmental Management

, Volume 63, Issue 6, pp 789–803 | Cite as

Evaluating Composition and Conservation Value of Roadside Plant Communities in a Grassland Biome

  • Jonathan M. Soper
  • Edward J. RaynorEmail author
  • Carol Wienhold
  • Walter H. Schacht
Article

Abstract

In the context of roadside revegetation activities in rural regions, revegetation objectives commonly are to establish plant communities with a diversity of species that would otherwise be absent on the predominantly agricultural landscape. To determine the efficacy of revegetation in providing plant communities of high biodiversity value, we quantified species richness, floristic quality, and success in seeding efforts. We evaluated the outcome of roadside seedings conducted by Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) for five NDOT landscape regions spanning Nebraska. Our assessment occurred on average 13.2 years (range: 10–17) post-revegetation, thus, providing insight into what established plant communities can be expected after a decade or more. Biomass production declined on an east to west gradient, but the component species responsible for this gradient were unique to each region. We found species richness was greatest in the western regions of Nebraska with the Sandhills supporting the highest richness. This rangeland-dominated region exhibited the highest floristic quality index, a tool commonly used to identify areas of high conservation value. Our findings indicate that the roadside vegetation is landscape-dependent in that neighboring plant communities influence botanical composition of roadside vegetation. Thus, less diverse seeding mixtures could be used on roadsides with a diversity of desirable native plant species in neighboring land (i.e., Sandhills rangeland). Conversely, in roadsides surrounded by cropland or plant communities with many non-native, weedy species, seeding complex mixtures with a diversity of desirable and highly competitive native species is likely necessary. Nebraska roadsides are viewed as a resource where plant communities with a diversity of native grassland species can be established; however, persistence of many seeded, native species is minimal (mostly forbs) because of the competiveness of both seeded and invasive grasses.

Keywords

Backslope Establishment Floristic quality index Invasive species Roadside vegetation Sandhills 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank employees of the Nebraska Department of Transportation for their field work and help in assembling expected rank of regional plant communities. Kelly Brink, Ben Schiltz, Jessica Shortino, Ryan Brock, Ben Beckman, Justin Hladik, and Samantha Bray for their assistance with data collection. We thank Mitch Stephenson and Jerry Volesky for reviewing a previous version of this manuscript. This project was possible with funding from the Nebraska Department of Transportation (Award # RHE-07) and the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

267_2019_1154_MOESM1_ESM.docx (28 kb)
Supplementary Information.

References

  1. Arterburn JR, Twidwell D, Schacht WH, Wonkka CL, Wedin DA (2018) Resilience of sandhills grassland to wildfire during drought. Rangeland Ecol Manag 71:53–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bakker JP, Poschlod P, Strykstra R, Bekker R, Thompson K (1996) Seed banks and seed dispersal: Important topics in restoration ecology. Acta Bot Neerl 45:461–490CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bassett IE, Simcock RC, Mitchell ND (2005) Consequences of soil compaction for seedling establishment: Implications for natural regeneration and restoration. Austral Ecol 30:827–833CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bleed AS, Flowerday C (1998) An atlas of the sand hills. Conservation and Survey Division, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NebraskaGoogle Scholar
  5. Bochet E, García‐Fayos P (2004) Factors controlling vegetation establishment and water erosion on motorway slopes in valencia, spain. Restor Ecol 12:166–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bourdaghs M, Johnston CA, Regal RR (2006) Properties and performance of the floristic quality index in great lakes coastal wetlands. Wetlands 26:718–735CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Davis MA, Grime JP, Thompson K (2000) Fluctuating resources in plant communities: a general theory of invasibility. J Ecol 88:528–534CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dunn C, Stephenson MB, J S (2016) Common grasses of nebraska. University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NebraskaGoogle Scholar
  9. Dunn C, Stephenson MB, Stubbendieck J (2017) Common forbs and shrubs of nebraska. University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NEGoogle Scholar
  10. Farhat YA, Janousek WM, McCarty JP, Rider N, Wolfenbarger LL (2014) Comparison of butterfly communities and abundances between marginal grasslands and conservation lands in the eastern great plains. J Insect Conserv 18:245–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Forman R, Godron MC (1986) Landscape ecology. vol 574.4. John Wiley & Sons, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  12. Forman RT (2003) Road ecology: Science and solutions. Island Press, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  13. Forman RT, Alexander LE (1998) Roads and their major ecological effects. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 29:207–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gardiner MM, B RC, Riccardo B, Erik Ö (2018) Rights‐of‐way: a potential conservation resource. Front Ecol Environ 16:149–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gelbard JL, Belnap J (2003) Roads as conduits for exotic plant invasions in a semiarid landscape. Conserv Biol 17:420–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hillhouse HL, Schacht WH, Soper JM, Wienhold CE (2018) Effects of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer and topsoil amendment on native plant cover in roadside revegetation projects. Environ Manag 61:147–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hopwood J, Black S, Fleury S (2015) Roadside best management practices that benefit pollinators: Handbook for supporting pollinators through roadside maintenance and landscape design. US Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  18. Hopwood JL (2008) The contribution of roadside grassland restorations to native bee conservation. Biol Conserv 141:2632–2640CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hothorn T, Hornik K, van de Wiel MA, Zeileis A (2008) Implementing a class of permutation tests: the coin package J Stat Soft 28:23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hufford KM, Mazer SJ (2003) Plant ecotypes: genetic differentiation in the age of ecological restoration. Trends Ecol Evol 18:147–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hunter MR, Hunter MD (2008) Designing for conservation of insects in the built environment. Insect Conserv Divers 1:189–196Google Scholar
  22. Ibisch PL et al. (2016) A global map of roadless areas and their conservation status. Science 354:1423–1427CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jodoin Y, Lavoie C, Villeneuve P, Theriault M, Beaulieu J, Belzile F (2008) Highways as corridors and habitats for the invasive common reed phragmites australis in quebec, canada. J Appl Ecol 45:459–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jog S, Kindscher K, Questad E, Foster B, Loring H (2006) Floristic quality as an indicator of native species diversity in managed grasslands. Nat Areas J 26:149–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kaul RB, Sutherland D, Rolfsmeier S (2006) The flora of nebraska. School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NEGoogle Scholar
  26. Kort J, Collins M, Ditsch D (1998) A review of soil erosion potential associated with biomass crops. Biomass- Bioenergy 14:351–359CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kurtz C Effects of post planting mowing on prairie reconstructions. In: Proceedings of the 14th North American Prairie Conference. Kansas State University, Manhattan, 1994. pp 181-183Google Scholar
  28. Larson DL, JB B, Pauline D, L. LJ, Sara V (2017) Persistence of native and exotic plants 10 years after prairie reconstruction. Restor Ecol 25:953–961CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Munguira ML, Thomas JA (1992) Use of road verges by butterfly and burnet populations, and the effect of roads on adult dispersal and mortality. J Appl Ecol 29:316–329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mushet DM, Euliss Jr NH, Shaffer TL (2002) Floristic quality assessment of one natural and three restored wetland complexes in north dakota, USA. Wetlands 22:126–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nebraska Department of Transportation (2017) Ndot roadside vegetation establishment and management. Nebraska Department of Transportation, Lincoln, NE USAGoogle Scholar
  32. Noss RF, LaRoe ET, Scott JM (1995) Endangered ecosystems of the united states: a preliminary assessment of loss and degradation vol 28. US Department of the Interior, National Biological Service, Washington, DC, USAGoogle Scholar
  33. Owensby C (1973) Modified step-point system for botanical conposition and basal cover estimates. J Range Manag 26:302–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Piper JK, Schmidt ES, Janzen AJ (2007) Effects of species richness on resident and target species components in a prairie restoration. Restor Ecol 15:189–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Poling T, Banker M, Jablonski L, Geiger D (2003) Quadrat-level floristic quality index reflects shifts in composition of a restored tallgrass prairie (ohio). Ecol Restor 21:144–145Google Scholar
  36. Potts SG et al. (2016) Summary for policymakers of the assessment report of the intergovernmental science-policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services on pollinators, pollination and food production. Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Bonn, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  37. R Development Core Team (2018) R: A language and environment for statisitcal computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, AustriaGoogle Scholar
  38. Ries L, Debinski DM, Wieland ML (2001) Conservation value of roadside prairie restoration to butterfly communities. Conserv Biol 15:401–411CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rolfsmeier SB, Steinauer G (2010) Terrestrial ecological systems and natural communities of nebraska. Nebraska Natural Heritage Program. Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Lincoln, NebraskaGoogle Scholar
  40. Rowe HI, Fargione J, Holland JD (2013) Prairie restorations can protect remnant tallgrass prairie plant communities. Am Midl Nat 170:26–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Schacht W, Soper J (2012) Adapting ndor’s roadside seed mixture for local site conditions - project rhe-07. Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, Lincoln, NEGoogle Scholar
  42. Schneider R, Stoner K, Steinauer G, Panella M, Humpert M (2011) The nebraska natural legacy project. Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Lincoln, NebraskaGoogle Scholar
  43. Sokal RR, Rohlf FJ (1987) Introduction to biostatistics. W. H. Freeman & Co., New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  44. Spooner PG, Lunt ID (2004) The influence of land-use history on roadside conservation values in an australian agricultural landscape. Aust J Bot 52:445–458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Stubbendieck J, Hatch SL, Dunn CD (2017) Grasses of the great plains. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, TexasGoogle Scholar
  46. Stubbendieck J, Tunnell SJ (2008) Seventy-eight years of vegetation dynamics in a sandhills grassland. Nat Areas J 28:58–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Swink F, Wilhelm G (1979) Plants of the chicago region, revised and expanded edition with keys. The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL, USAGoogle Scholar
  48. Taft JB, Wilhelm GS, Ladd DM, Masters LA (1997) Floristic quality assessment for vegetation in illinois, a method for assessing vegetation integrity. Illinois Native Plant Society Westville, IllinoisGoogle Scholar
  49. Tormo J, Bochet E, Garcia-Fayos P (2007) Roadfill revegetation in semiarid mediterranean environments. Part ii: Topsoiling, species selection, and hydroseeding. Restor Ecol 15:97–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Trombulak SC, Frissell CA (2000) Review of ecological effects of roads on terrestrial and aquatic communities. Conserv Biol 14:18–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Von Der Lippe M, Kowarik I (2007) Long-distance dispersal of plants by vehicles as a driver of plant invasions. Conserv Biol 21:986–996CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wilhelm G, Rericha L (2017) Flora of the chicago region: a floristic and ecological synthesis. Indiana Academy of Science Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IndianaGoogle Scholar
  53. Williams DW, Jackson LL, Smith DD (2007) Effects of frequent mowing on survival and persistence of forbs seeded into a species‐poor grassland. Restor Ecol 15:24–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wojcik VA, Buchmann S (2012) Pollinator conservation and management on electrical transmission and roadside rights-of-way: a review. J Pollinat Ecol 7:16–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agronomy and HorticultureUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA
  2. 2.Nebraska Department of TransportationLincolnUSA

Personalised recommendations