By Carol Davit
MPF strives to continually collect biological data from its prairies, to compare with past data and evaluate whether or not our management practices are sustaining botanical integrity. In July 2018, botanist Brett Budach was resampling vegetation at MPF’s Penn-Sylvania Prairie, where in 2014 botanist Justin Thomas found a record number of 35 native plant species in a quarter-meter (20 x 20 inches) frame, at that time a statewide record at that scale. (A total of 289 native plant species, and several plant and animal species of conservation concern are documented at the 160-acre Penn-Sylvania Prairie.) In 2015, botanist Claire Ciafre, sampling with Thomas at MPF’s La Petite Gemme Prairie, recorded a new state record—38 species at the same scale. (A total of 335 native plant species, and several plants and animals of conservation concern are known from the 37-acre La Petite Gemme Prairie.)
Penn-Sylvania Prairie is now once again in the lead, however, with an astonishing 46 native species that Budach recorded during his July visit, and Thomas verified, in a quarter-meter quadrat. In an article on world records of plant species richness published by the Journal of Vegetative Science in 2012, the stated record holder at this scale is a grassland in the Czech Republic, with 44 species. It appears that Penn-Sylvania Prairie has set a new world record!
This rich biodiversity is sustained, not by luck, but by assertive, prudent prairie stewardship. Please give now to help MPF continue its award-winning work to protect Missouri’s priceless prairies.