Regal fritillary at MPF’s Schwartz Prairie. Photo: Allen Woodliffe

Prairie Research

While prairie is very rare in Missouri today, there is still much to learn about this complex ecosystem. A key aspect of MPF’s mission is prairie education, including support of prairie research. 

To this end, MPF raises funds to pay for annual species’ surveys on its prairies, and also provides numerous small grants to researchers studying prairies, glades, and other native grasslands. In 2008, for example, MPF provided a small grant to Nicole Miller, then a Ph.D. candidate at Washington University, to assist with her work studying plant-pollinator interactions on Missouri prairies and glades

MPF also allows researchers—with permission—to use MPF properties to gather data and carry out other scientific work. In 2010, for example, Lauren Hart, a graduate student at the University of Missouri-Columbia, compared insect communities in original tallgrass prairies, restored prairies, and fescue-dominated agricultural fields, as well as insect-feeding interactions. Results of these and other researchers’ work is often published in the Missouri Prairie Journal and posted below. 

MPF’s prairie events open to the public also result in data collection and biological discoveries. For example, at MPF’s Penn-Sylvania Prairie BioBliz in 2010, 242 species of plants and animals were documented in fewer than 24 hours, including 133 plant species confirmed from a 1999 list plus 30 newly documented plants. At MPF’s Golden Prairie BioBlitz in 2011, Arkansas darters—an uncommon headwater fish—were discovered in a small spring-fed prairie stream.

Research on MPF Prairies:

Insects:

Snowball Hill Prairie Butterfly, Dragonfly, and Bird Survey (2017)

Macroinvertebrates of Prairie Headwater Streams: Spatial Patterns of Community Structure and Report Figures (2016)

Report on bees found at Golden and Stilwell Prairies (2014)

Annotated Ant List for Gayfeather Prairie (2014)

Annotated Ant List for Penn-Sylvania Prairie

Odonota surveys of the various sites of the Missouri Prairie Foundation (2013)

Flora:

2021 Floristic Integrity Report: Carver (plot 1), Lordi Marker, and Schuette Prairies by the Institute of Botanical Training, LLC.

2020 Floristic Integrity Report: Coyne, Golden, Linden’s, and Rae Letsinger Prairies by the Institute of Botanical Training, LLC.

2019 Floristic Integrity Report: Gayfeather, Stilwell, and unnamed (Thomas) Prairies by the Institute of Botanical Training, LLC.

2018 Floristic Integrity Report: Coyne (continued), Penn-Sylvania, Schwartz and Snowball Hill Prairies by the Institute of Botanical Training, LLC.

2017 Floristic Integrity Report: Brown, Coyne, Denison and Snowball Hill Prairies

Pleasant Run Creek Prairie Floristic Integrity Report (2016)

La Petite Gemme Prairie Floristic Integrity Report (2016)

Linden’s Prairie Floristic Integrity Report (2016)

Linden’s Prairie Bryophytes (2016)

Missouri Bryophytes of the Prairie (2016)

Carver Prairie Floristic Integrity Report (2016) 

2015 Penn-Sylvania Floristic Integrity Assessment Report

La Petite Gemme Prairie Bryophytes (2015)

2014 Golden Prairie Floristic Integrity Report

2012 Coyne Prairie Floristic Integrity Report

Schwartz Prairie Bryophytes (2012)

Birds:

2022 Breeding Bird Surveys on Missouri Prairie Foundation Properties by the Missouri River Bird Observatory

2021 Breeding Bird Surveys on Missouri Prairie Foundation Properties by the Missouri River Bird Observatory

2020 Breeding Bird Surveys on Missouri Prairie Foundation Properties by the Missouri River Bird Observatory 

2019 Breeding Bird Surveys on 10 MPF Prairies in 2019 by the Missouri River Bird Observatory

2018 Breeding Bird Surveys on Missouri Prairie Foundation Properties by the Missouri River Bird Observatory

2017 Bird Surveys Report for Golden

Carver Prairie Breeding Bird Survey (2016)

2014 Grassland Bird Survey

2012 Grasslands Bird Survey

Reptiles and Amphibians:

Herpetofaunal Survey: Reptiles and Amphibians at Golden Prairie

Published, peer-reviewed studies on prairie, biodiversity conservation, and other related topics:

A New Tool for Assessing Restoration Potential and Monitoring Restoration Success in Tallgrass Prairies: The Natural Community Health Index, by Mike J. Leahy and Jennifer Buchanan, published in the April 2022 issue of Natural Areas Journal.

Habitat Restoration Benefits Wild Bees: A meta-analysis, by Rebecca K. Tonietto and Daniel J. Larkin, published in the March 2018 issue of Journal of Applied Ecology.

MPF Vice President of Science & Management Bruce Schuette’s paper, The Conservation Significance of Prairie Remnants in Missouri, which he delivered at the 2016 North American Prairie Conference in Illinois.

Bumble bees selectively use native and exotic species to maintain nutritional intake across highly variable and invaded local floral resource pools, Ecological Entomology (2015), 40, 471–478. Alexandra N. Harmon-Threatt and Claire Kremen.

Fire Season Effects on Orthopteran Populations at Hunkah and Bogart Prairies at Prairie State Park by Susanne Greenlee, March 2000.

Variations in Leaf Beetle Populations of a Native Tallgrass Prairie: Influence of Seasonal Burn Regimes, by Douglas G. Ledoux, presented to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources in April 1998.

Proceedings of the North American Conference on Savannas and Barrens, at Illinois State University, October 15-16, 1994, edited by James S. Fralish, Roger C. Anderson, John E. Ebinger, and Rober Szafonia.

Other:

Comprehensive Distribution and Characterization of Missouri’s Glade-Producing Rock Formations by Paul W. Nelson, Allison J. Vaughn and Larry D. Pierce, Jr., Missouri Department of Natural Resources Special Report No. 14, 2022.

Missouri Climate, 1895-2021 by Pat Guinan, Missouri Climate Center report.

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