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Tuesday, January 30 • 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Poster Display. The Effect of Prescribed Fire, Landscape Position, and Deer Browsing on Spring Ephemerals in an Oak-hickory Woodland of West-central Illinois

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AUTHORS: Will T. Rechkemmer, Department of Biological Sciences, Western Illinois University; Mary E. Gilliam, Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute; Ben R. Wodika, Department of Biological Sciences, Truman State University; James T. Lamer, Department of Biological Sciences, Western Illinois University; Sean E. Jenkins, Department of Biological Sciences, Western Illinois University

ABSTRACT: Prescribed fire use has increased and studies of its effects on woodland and grassland communities are widespread. Similarly a growing body of literature exists on white-tailed deer browsing effects on spring flora and woodland communities. However, there is a paucity of literature on the combined effects of prescribed fire and white-tailed deer browsing on spring flora. We surveyed spring ephemeral flora in an oak-hickory woodland of West-central Illinois on previously established 1 m2 plots with four treatments: burned/exclosed, burned/not exclosed, unburned/exclosed, and unburned/not exclosed (n = 50 per treatment). We found that species richness, evenness, and diversity were higher on north facing slopes (P = 0.002) and at lower slope positions (P = 0.04). Dutchman’s breeches cover was highest on north facing low slopes (P = 0.04), while cover of wild blue phlox was marginally higher on exclosure plots (P = 0.10).  Three species were indicators of north facing slopes (dutchman’s breeches, violets, and cutleaf toothwort; P = 0.003) while two species were indicators of south facing slopes (false rue anemone and violet wood sorrel; P = 0.047). Spring beauty was associated (P = 0.009) with unburned exclosure plots suggesting deer may be having an impact on its cover. Overall, our research demonstrates that abiotic site factors may have more influence on spring flora than prescribed fire or deer herbivory at this site. Understanding the effects of environmental factors along with management techniques and herbivory on spring flora contributes a greater understanding of management and ecology in oak-hickory woodlands, and can provide better insight to land and natural resource managers in the future. 

Tuesday January 30, 2018 6:00pm - 9:00pm CST
Ballroom C & Foyer