Monday, January 8 – Linking CRP grassland management to plant, bird, and insect abundance and diversity

Speaker: Molly Reichenborn

Topic: Linking CRP grassland management to plant, bird, and insect abundance and diversity

Date/time/location: Monday, January 8th; 7:30 pm; The Donut Whole (1720 E. Douglas)



The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a national program that pays landowners to remove land from agricultural production and plant species that provide environmental benefits such as soil erosion control and wildlife habitat. In Kansas, over 1.7 million acres are enrolled in CRP, supporting extensive grassland restoration in a mostly cultivated landscape. Although CRP provides valuable habitat, these grasslands generally have lower plant diversity and uniform structure compared to grazed, native prairies. Grazing is currently limited or prohibited as CRP management, despite the historical role of large grazers (bison) on the landscape. Lack of grazing disturbance may help explain why CRP falls short in comparison to cattle-stocked native prairies. Collaborators at Emporia and Wichita State Universities are undertaking a 3-year study to examine the potential benefits of cattle grazing on bird, plant, and insect communities on CRP lands. Data were collected for the first year of the study in 2017 on CRP representing high and low diversity planting practices (CP25 and CP2, respectively) across the longitudinal precipitation gradient in Kansas. This presentation will address what the investigators have learned thus far.


Molly Reichenborn is a two-time alumna of Wichita State University, receiving her bachelor of science in 2013 and master of science in biological sciences in 2016. Though she originally intended to pursue a career in zookeeping, Molly was drawn to ecosystem restoration and research during her undergraduate studies, and instead pursued a graduate degree focused on plant community ecology. As a graduate student, she was involved with multiple projects dealing with the invasive plant species Sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata), including her thesis research examining the recovery of a Kansas plant community following the removal of this invader. Molly currently works as a project manager under the principle investigators heading up the CRP research project, Dr. Bill Jensen at Emporia State University and Drs. Greg Houseman and Mary Liz Jameson at Wichita State University.

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