NatureCITE's research into the effects of Patch Burn Grazing have been very informative. The research demonstrates several things. First, we've verified that richness (the number of species) and diversity (the distribution of species) are not adequate measures of habitat management. This is important to know because many land managers and researchers use only these variables to monitor the efficacy of their techniques. Second, we've verified that mean C-value, which is a measure of how "sensitive" species at a site are, is a very robust and consistent tool for monitoring the changes caused by management. In the particular case of Patch Burn Grazing, we've found dramatic declines in the populations of sensitive species and dramatic rises in weedy species. In terms of ensuring the future of quality natural habitats this strongly indicates that Patch Burn Grazing is more harmful than helpful. NatureCITE strongly discourages Patch Burn Grazing. If you are interested in more details, here is a link to a more thorough summary of our current research (peer-reviewed publication pending).
With roughly 85 species, Dichanthelium, the Rosette Grasses, is the second largest genus of vascular plants in eastern North America; second only to Carex. Like Carex, distinct species have evolved into many of our natural communities. As such, they provide significant information about evolution, phytogeography (why plants are where they are), community assemblage, ecological integrity (how intact a site is), rarity, restoration potential and proper management approaches within their geographical ranges. However, before scientists can fully benefit from these crucial types of information, we have to know what the species are and where they occur; a common problem in many North American plant groups. Justin Thomas, our Science Director, has studied this genus in North America for twenty years. He is currently engaged in a state-wide treatment of Arkansas' Dichanthelium sponsored by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. This study, approaching completion, has increased the known Rosette Grasses of Arkansas from 18 to 49 entities (46 species and three unnamed hybrids). The next step is to map the detailed distribution of each and look for ancient migration patterns, ecological community affinities and pinpoint areas where certain species may be at risk.
Though advancements in technology-driven sciences like molecular biology and theoretical ecology have contributed tremendously to society, many questions in hands-on, field-based, organismal biology remain unanswered. These lingering question, involving species rarity, species distribution, species identity, ecological integrity, ecological succession, and more must be answered if we are to protect endangered species and defend the rights of wild organisms and the ecosystems that they define. This is NatureCITE's prime directive. We must simultaneously learn and educate in order to foster both understanding and respect for the world in which we live. Through biodiversity exploration, NatureCITE seeks to better understand the taxonomic relationships of species as they exist in the modern landscape, but also seeks to understand the ecological and evolutionary landscapes as well. The two are inseparable. This conjoined goal manifests as discoveries of new species to science (or to new geographical areas) and new insights into ecological interactions such as our continued research into Floristic Quality Assessment applications. Scroll down on this page to the photo gallery to see examples.