Restoration of American Midwestern prairies


Nick Lyon studies prairie restoration

Nick Lyon, recently presented his thesis in the ISU Graduate College 3-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. An M.S. candidate in EEB, Lyon joined the Debinski lab this fall to study restoration ecology in Midwestern prairies.

Restoration ecologist develop ways to restore the historic function of a habitat or ecosystem. In American Midwestern prairies, the grazing of American bison and periodic wildfires helped suppress invasive species and protect bio-diversity. Restoration ecologist have found similar effects using cattle and prescribed burns.

Lyon wants to know what more we can do. With his work, he hopes to find the best methods to 

  • remove non-native species
  • promote the arrival of quality prairie plant species and their pollinators
  • promote quality forage plants for cattle

Currently, Lyon is comparing the fall application of an herbicide against the fall application of an herbicide plus spring seeding. His work could benefit cattle-owners. Midwestern prairies are currently plagued with an invasive fescue species toxic to cattle. Lyon is also using species-distribution modelling to look at the long-term impact of his methods.

Lyon comes to ISU from the University of Puget Sound, where he studied marine pollution as an undergraduate. His interest in plant-animal interactions and a desire to study climate change found a shared home in the Debinski lab.

View Lyon's 3MT presentation