This summer, we are funded through an MAA NREUP grant, an MAA activity funded by NSA (grant H98230-13-1-0270) and NSF (grant DMS-1156582). We have two projects involving prairie restoration. Our first objective is to mathematically model the change of land from prairie to agriculture to restored prairie in the Midwest. We are using a modified version of an SIR model, which is typically used to describe the spread of diseases.
In addition to our model, we have done statistical analysis on data collected from a restored prairie in Nebraska. Summer researchers in the biology department collected this data in June of 2012. Data collected includes the richness and diversity of plant species on the prairie as well as the richness and diversity of ground-dwelling invertebrates. One of our goals is to see whether higher plant diversity attracts higher insect diversity.
Our conclusions from this summer project could influence modeling of other ecological systems as well as encourage more national prairie restoration.
~Hannah Longstreet, Tony Saucedo, Lauren Tirado, Demetre Van Arsdale