Read the full story at The Conversation.
Prairies once covered an enormous area of North America, but today have been reduced to a small fraction of this historical range. Imagine an area the size of Texas, the second largest state, shrinking over the course of decades to an area the size of Massachusetts, the sixth smallest state.
Prairie grasslands produce a lot of benefits, such as storing carbon in soil, providing habitat for wildlife and protecting the land from erosion. Government agencies, conservation organizations and homeowners are working to restore native prairie ecosystems in many parts of the central U.S., but it’s a daunting challenge. Often newly planted restoration sites end up covered with weeds.
I am an ecologist and have worked with other researchers for a decade to find the most effective ways of restoring prairies in the midwestern United States. Our newest finding points to a reason why planted prairies can fail, one that few had considered earlier: the weather during the year they are planted.