Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
John E. Ebinger
Belmont Prairie is located in Downers Grove, DuPage County, Illinois, and is one of the few preserves of a native tall grass prairie. It is located in the Morainal section of the Northeastern Morainal Division, and harbors over 100 species of native prairie plants which are typical of the community type. Three vegetation zones were sampled for species composition and both frequency and relative frequency. These areas are as follows: Dry mesic upland area, sedge meadow, and transitional area.
The upland dry mesic zone had diverse vegetation including forb and grass species such as Parthenium integrifolium, Silphium laciniatum, Aster pilosus, Daucus carota, Panicum perlongum, and Bromus inermis. This area had the most species diversity, especially in the forb composition. Woody species such as Cornus racemosa, Rosa carolina, and Rhus glabra are quite prevalent and management is needed to prevent these species from becoming dominant. Non-native forbs, such as Daucus carota, are also in need of being managed, because the past disturbance in this area favors these weedy species over the native prairie plants.
The transitional area had a large number of forb species and a few more grass species than did the upland area. Forbs included Parthenium integrifolium, Comandra richardsiana, and Antennaria neglecta, as well as species of Solidago. Silphium terebinthinaceum was also abundant in this area. Grasses and sedges prevalent included the native Stipa spartea and Carex blanda. Woody encroachment is not as evident as in the previously described upland area, but stands of Salix nigra, Cornus racemosa, and other species are present. In these areas, management is needed so that native prairie plants are not crowded or shaded out.
The sedge meadow had the fewest number of forb species of all the three areas, however the composition differed greatly. None of the forb species dominated, and the list includes Polygonum amphibium, Galium obtusum, and Smilacina stellata. Grasses and sedges dominated this area, unlike the other zones, with Carex stricta and Calamagrostis canadensis the most prevalent. Woody encroachment is not outwardly visible, because of the height of the grasses and sedges. Rosa carolina and Cornus racemosa are the only species found to be growing in the area, but the sizes of these species appears to be limited by the dense grass vegetation and the thick rhizomatous mat which is characteristic of Carex stricta.
Ruta, Susan Eckert, "Vegetation Analysis of Three Zones of Belmont Prairie, DuPage County, Illinois" (1983). Masters Theses. 2848.
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