Ohio-Erie Trail Bikeway -- Study and Management of Prairie Remnants

    The presettlement SW Ohio landscape was once domnated by                  These forests and grasslands were converted to cropland
    forests that were interspirsed with areas of grassland (or prairie).            as shown in the above view of the "Selma Plains",  Selma, OH.

   But, remains of the historic Ohio prairies ("priaire remnants") exist in old cemeteries (which were protected from plowing) and along railways
    (promoted by the frequent fires and mowing) as may have been the case with the remnants shown above along U.S. 42 near Selma, Ohio.

       Now that the railway has been converted to bikeway (Ohio-Erie Trail) and fire is suppressed, prairie remnants must be maintained by
        a careful plan of mowing, cutting, and prescribed fire in spring or after the growing season.  "County Line" remnant near Selma, OH.

    Research opportunities include inventory and GPS mapping of plant species along the bikeway (former railway) corridor between Xenia, OH
      and Columbus, Ohio.    Greg Schneider, botanist with ODNR, Div. of Natural Areas and  Preserves views Royal Catchfly (Silene regia).

Possible Research Topics:

1.  Extending plant species inventory and GPS mapping -- what species inhabit the bikeway prairie remnants?
2.  What combination of seasonal mowing and prescribed burns is best to enhance the prairie remnants?
3.  How are butterfly, bird, or other selected animal populations affected by remnant prairie restoration?
4.  How do bird and butterfly species richness of bikeway prairie remnants compare to those of the Cedarville U. Prairie?
5.  What is the history of land use of the "Selma Plains" as obtained from county archives and interviews of residents?
6.  What interactions exist between prairie plant and animal populations (see below)?

   We have observed an adult weevil that clips the flower stalk of prairie dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum (pinnatifid), shown above.
   According to John Tooker (Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)  the weevil lays its eggs in the flower head where the resultant larvae develop
   at the expense of reproductive success of the plant.   What is the effect of periodic fire upon weevil populations?