Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date

2016

Abstract

How to conserve the great biodiversity of the prairie resource is a question of continuous debate. In Missouri the estimated 6,070,284 ha (15 million acres) of prairie at the time of Euro-American settlement has been reduced to an estimated 20,234–24,281 ha (50,000–60,000 acres) today, with 8,093 ha (20,000 acres) in conservation ownership. This valuable resource is rare now and is continuing to disappear. The Missouri Prairie Foundation (MPF), a nongovernmental organization celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2016, has acquired and protects 22 tracts that cover more than 1,335 ha (3,300 acres), comprised mostly of original unplowed prairie. These parcels, though limited in size, constitute a system of high quality native remnants. MPF has recently embarked on several surveys to document the biodiversity of these prairies. As funding and opportunity have allowed, surveys were conducted of flora, floristic integrity, bryophytes, soil biota, birds, pollinators, ants, lepidopterans, and odonates. These surveys are demonstrating that even relatively small remnants are supporting and perpetuating high levels of conservative and rare species and providing exciting new discoveries. Protecting remnant prairies, large and not so large, before they disappear is MPF’s approach to conserving prairie biodiversity in Missouri and is an essential practice that needs to be included in any state’s prairie conservation strategy.

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