Prairie Park: Monitoring a prairie remnant

Wildflowers and grasses in meadow with researchers in far background

KU plant ecologists are monitoring plant species at the 5-acre native prairie remnant at the Prairie Park Nature Center in Lawrence, Kan. The monitoring plan was created following the April 27, 2023, broadcast spraying of the prairie with PastureGard, a broadleaf herbicide, by the City of Lawrence as the result of a departmental error. The spraying caused damage across the site (the photo above, taken May 22, 2023, shows one of a few small patches that escaped damage). The City has provided funding for the monitoring project.

Individual researchers visited the prairie several times in May and met together on May 22 (2023) to work out a methodology for monitoring the site over the course of the 2023 growing season and in June 2024.The prairie was surveyed May 31, July 28 and Sept. 27, 2023; see summary updates and photos.

The researchers involved are:

  • Sara Baer, director of the Kansas Biological Survey & Center for Ecological Research;
  • Kelly Kindscher, a senior scientist at the research center and a professor in KU's Environmental Studies Program;
  • Caleb Morse, collection manager at KU's R.L. McGregor Herbarium;
  • Nathaniel Weickert, assistant operations manager for the KU Field Station, which is managed by the research center.