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A note on additional plants found at Sixteenth Section (OSBORN) Prairie.

ABSTRACT

Andropogon geradii Vitman, Arundinaria gigantea (Walter), Cacalia tuberosa Nutt., Erucastrum gallicum (Wild.), Eryngium yuccifolium Michx., Silphium trifoliatum L. var. latifolium A. Gray, Sorghastrum nutans (L.), and Tripsacum dactyloides (L.) are reported as new records from the Sixteenth Section (Osborn) Prairie in Oktibbeha Co., Mississippi as a result of observations made from 2000 to 2005.

INTRODUCTION

Leidolf and McDaniel (1998) reported 152 species of plants from Sixteen Section Prairie (also known as Osborn Prairie), a Black Belt Prairie remnant in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi (T19N R15E Sec. 16; 33[degrees]30'21"N88[degrees]44'09"W). Their survey of 16.8 ha delineated three distinct plant communities: open prairie, prairie cedar woodland, and chalk outcrops, along a power-line right of way. Seven of these plants are listed as imperiled and four are under consideration for listing as imperiled in the state. Since that study, approximately 57 hectares of this remnant, including the Leidolf and McDaniel survey area, have been leased for 40 years from the Oktibbeha County Board of Education by "Friends of the Black Belt" in an effort to conserve this remnant. Osborn Prairie is one of the larger examples of protected Black Belt Prairie vegetation in Mississippi. It is frequently used as a study site for researchers as well as an "outdoor classroom" for the local public school district and various courses taught at Mississippi State University (Wiygul et al., 2003).

The open prairie habitat is significant in that it not only includes rare plant species, but also has several insect species populations that are disjunct from other populations in the Great Plains and other grasslands. These disjunct populations have been hypothesized to be the result of a grassland corridor that prehistorically connected the Black Belt and the Great Plains (Brown 2003). Pollen core studies for this area of the Southeast are not available to support the prehistoric presence of prairie in the Black Belt due to the lack of available sites with chronologically intact pollen preservation dating to this period (Peacock 1993; Sheehan 1982). However, a study of the macro-vertebrate fossil assemblage revealed a community of grazers, dominated by six species of Equis (Equidae), three of which are only known from the Black Belt and the Great Plains, and insect studies revealed the presence of an endemic, flightless ground beetle, Cyclotrechelus hyperpiformis Freitag (Coleoptera: Carabidae), whose most closely related species occurs in Texas and the Great Plains, and the local abundance of the moth, Ceratomia hageni Grt. Lepidoptera: Sphingidae), which is also locally common in Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Texas support Brown's (2003) hypothesis (Kaye, 1974 and Brown, 2003).

METHODS

The plants reported here were detected in the open prairie habitat during the years 2000-2005 within the 57 ha currently leased by "Friends of the Black Belt" that includes the study area of Leidolf and McDainel. Voucher specimens have been placed in the Mississippi State Herbarium and the Cobb Institute of Archeology comparative collection. Nomenclature follows: Kartesz (1994).

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

New records for the open prairie habitat at Sixteenth Section include the grasses (Poaceae) Andropogon geradii Vitman, Sorghastrum nutans (L.), Arundinaria gigantea (Walter) Muhl. and Tripsacum dactyloides (L). Leidolf and McDaniel (1998) noted A. geradii and S. nutans as being absent from the site and speculated that their absence was due to the lack of fire. Three small populations of A. geradii, big bluestem, were located in this survey, with the largest covering an area 0.5 x 1.0 m. Three small populations of S. nutans, Indian grass, were discovered with the largest measuring one meter wide by three meters long. While another population consists of several scattered individuals on top of a hill along the power-line. Sorghastrum nutans hay was introduced to the site by Schawecker (2001) as part of an experiment at the site. His results indicated that this introduction was unsuccessful due to various factors including a drought during the study period. It is possible that the S. nutans is present as a result of this introduction; however, none of the present populations are near the plots used in that study. Arundinaria gigantea, cane, is found bordering a creek that transects the prairie/power line near the north border of the site. The cane extends 5-10 meters from the stream bank into the open prairie. One clump of Tripsacum dactyloides, eastern gamma grass, was found in a prairie opening adjacent to the power line.

Additional non-grass plants found in the open prairie include Silphium trifoliatum L. var. latifolium A. Gray (Asteraceae), Cacalia tuberosa Nutt (Asteraceae), Eryngium yuccifolium Michx. (Apiaceae), and Erucastrum gallicum (Wild.) (Brassicaceae). A population of Silphium trifoliatum L. var. latifolium, whorled rosinweed, consisting of approximately 45 plants were found in several prairie openings, that were interspersed among areas of cedar woodland on the northeastern boundary of the study area. Several specimens of Cacalia tuberosa, Indian plantain, were found on the power-line right- of- way and in several of the prairie openings. A population of approximately 25 individuals of Eryngium yuccifolium, rattlesnake master plants, was discovered in a small prairie opening on the western edge of the property. Scattered individuals of Erucastrum gallicum, common dog mustard, were found growing mostly along the open prairie/chalk outctop interface throughout the study area (See Table 1).

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We thank Richard Brown and all of the "Friends of the Black Belt" who have put forth the effort to conserve the natural heritage of this region. We also thank John MacDonald for his effort in verifying several plant identifications. Thanks also goes to John Barone for his constructive comments on this manuscript.

REFERENCES

Brown R. L. 2003. Paleoenvironment and Biogeography of the Mississippi Black Belt: Evidence from Insects. (pp. 1-26) In Peacock, E. and Schauwecker, T. (eds). Blackland Prairies of the Gulf Coastal Plain: Nature, Culture, and Sustainability. The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa 348 pp.

Kaye, J. M. 1974 Pleistocene Sediment and Vertebrate Fossil Associations in the Mississippi Black Belt: A Genetic Approach. Unpublished Ph.D dissertation, Louisiana State University. 116 pp.

Kartesz, J. T. 1994. A Synonymized Checklist of the Vascular Flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland, Volume 2- Thesaurus, 2nd ed. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon. 816 pp.

Liedolf, A. and S. McDaniel. 1998. A floristic study of Black Prairie plant communities at Sixteen-Section Prairie, Oktibbeha County, Mississippi. Castanea 63: 51-62.

Peacock, E. 1993. Reconstructing the Black Belt environment using leaf impressions in daub. Southeastern Archaeology 12: 148-154.

Sheehan, M. C. 1982. Archaeological Investigations at the Yarborough Site (22CL814) Clay County, Mississippi. University of Alabama. Moundville 133 pp.

Schauwecker, T. J. 2001. Plant Community Response to Disturbance and Assembly Rules at a Blackland Prairie Restoration Site. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation. Mississippi State University, MS. 79 pp.

Wiygul, S., K. Krans, R. Brown, and V. Maddox. 2003. Restoration of a prairie remnant in the Black Belt of Mississippi. pp. 254-261. In Peacock, E. and Schauwecker, T. (eds). Blackland Prairies of the Gulf Coastal Plain: Nature, Culture, and Sustainability. The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa. 348 pp.

JoVonn G. Hill (1) and Jennifer L. Seltzer (2)

(1) Mississippi Entomological Museum, PO Box 9775, Mississippi State University, MS 39762

(2) Cobb Institute of Archaeology, Box AR, Mississippi State University, MS 39762

Corresponding Author: JoVonn Hill
Table 1. Additional plants found in open prairie habitat at 16th Section
Prairie.

Arundinaria gigantea (Walter), cane
Andropogon gerardii Vitman, big bluestem
Cacalia tuberosa Nutt., Indian plantain
Erucastrum gallicum (Wild.), common dog mustard
Erygynum yuccafolium Michx., rattlesnake master
Silphium trifoliatum L. var. latifolium A. Gray, whirled
rosinweed Sorghastrum nutans (L.), Indian grass
Tripsacum dactyloides (L), Eastern gamma grass
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Author:Hill, JoVonn G.; Seltzer, Jennifer L.
Publication:Journal of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1U6MS
Date:Oct 1, 2007
Words:1257
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