Assessing the Soil Composition and Quality in Virgin and Restored Tallgrass Illinois Prairie
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The North American prairie landscape is the natural environment of the Midwest, yet few have seen its existence. Over the course of time as humans continue to sculpt the land, this flat grassland has dramatically decreased in size. With the hopes of maintaining the bits of prairie left and restoring heavily degraded areas, understanding the landscape and its ecosystem is crucial. The soils, in particular, create insight to the types of plant and animal species that inhabit the area. This study focused on the soil quality and composition in virgin and restored prairies. Based on management practices, the soils are expected to be fairly similar. Air Station Prairie and James Woodworth Prairie were the sites of study, in which soil was obtained through coring. The soil samples were collected and analyzed through various tests determining the texture, porosity, water holding capacity, and available nutrients for composition. The results suggest that the soil compositions are similar and may be in part due to variables that were unaccounted for. The land use of agriculture and urbanization surrounding both prairies has similar effects on the natural environment, which includes erosion along its edges. The results show that additional research would be beneficial in producing more effective restoration practices.