Vegetative and Large Carnivore Responses in an Encroached Landscape

This project concerns vegetative and large carnivore responses to Nebraska’s encroached landscapes and is split into three parts with distinct goals.  

Current Status

First, the efficacy of grassland restorations by tree removal will be determined by revisiting sites where tree removals were used in grassland restorations in 2006, to determine if these sites have been reinvaded or not. Vegetative community composition (particularly invasive tree species) and structure (measured with visual obstructing readings – VOR) will be quantified.
Preliminary results, indicate invasive tree presence by site.


Second, the efficacy of oak plantings following tree removal will be determined to assess oak survival and subsequent tree invasion. This strategy is part of an effort to increase oak regeneration in riparian woodlands where such regeneration has suffered, particularly due to shading by encroaching trees and high herbivory rates. Sites where tree removals occurred and oaks were planted along the Niobrara river will be revisited to quantify oak survival and invasive tree presence to determine whether this method of tree removal followed by oak planting is effective for restoring oak presence in Nebraska’s riparian woodlands at the sites.


The third component of this research is to determine mountain lion interactions with Eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana). To do so, data on mountain lion from the Niobrara Valley, Nebraska provided by Sam Wilson from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will be analyzed to create home range of mountain lions, use of habitat features, with particular interest in woody cover, and eastern redcedar plantings/encroachment.

Occurrence of Eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) and Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) as percentage of plots in which the woody species was detected at three surveys done in 2005, 2007, and 2018 at nine sights
Occurrence of Eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) and Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) as percentage of plots in which the woody species was detected at three surveys done in 2005, 2007, and 2018 at nine sights
Principal Investigator(s)
-Dirac Twidwell

Graduate Student(s)
-Hugh Ellerman, M.S.


Project Duration
August 2017 - May 2020

Funding
-University of Nebraska–Lincoln
-Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Project Location
Statewide Nebraska
Cooperators