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Old 04-26-2013, 11:14 AM   #1
A Bee's Best Friend
Gloria's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Chicago Illinois USA
Default Arbor Day and biodiversity

Trees are awesome. Old trees even just one in a neighborhood can be a habitat all its own. Insects, birds and animals rely on the food and shelter provided. In an urban area, homes , schools and parks need the shade provided by an urban forest.
But prairies have a different ecology and trees nearby could present a few problems. Once fire and long hot summers kept the trees at bay but here and now the small remnants of prairie saved or restored need some consideration when planting trees. Even if like the Chicago area a savanna could be acceptable.
Here are two suggestions from a prairie manager at The Nature Conservancy.

A Prairie Ecologist’s Perspective on Arbor Day | The Prairie Ecologist

1. Do some research on the tree species you plant. Some species, such as Siberian elm, Russian olive, Autumn olive, and other non-native trees and shrubs can be very invasive in grasslands, quickly spreading by seed far from the parent tree. A quick internet search using the name of the tree and the word “invasive” will tell you whether or not the tree species you’re considering is one that could cause problems. However, even many native trees can spread into grasslands, so that leads us to…
2. Carefully consider the location of your proposed tree planting. As mentioned earlier, even a single tree, let alone a row along the edge or (heaven forbid!) through the middle of a prairie can wreak havoc on grassland birds and other species. Prairies and their plant and animal inhabitants thrive in wide open habitats; adding trees to those habitats can really mess things up.
Plant a tree for arbor day.
"Half Earth Quest" Edward O. Wilson

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Old 04-26-2013, 11:59 AM   #2
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Kentucky

I like reading "A Prairie Ecologist" I referred to it a lot when we first moved here and I wanted to make a small garden with prairie plants. What he says makes complete sense. Know your environment, try to follow the cues from the land's historic ecosystem, that should be common sense. It's actually pretty funny when he talks about loving his cherry pies, chances are that his cherry tree is not native to Nebraska or anywhere else in the US.

I suppose the biggest conflict would be with farmstead that abut prairies. Most homesteads in Indiana were surrounded by corn and soybean fields and were edged with windbreak hedgerows, not always native trees. If a similar homestead in the plains states had the same type of trees it could be detrimental to the prairies nearby. Our place in Indiana had Russian olive (the horror!) White mulberry (lots of them) and burning bush among others.
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