Plant conservation at the Morton Arboretum focuses on conserving plant diversity of the
Chicago region at the community and species level. This work falls within four broad
HISTORIC (pre-European) VEGETATION
Understanding the historic pattern and structure of vegetation is critical to its
restoration and management. To address these needs, we are reconstructing Chicago region
historic vegetation based on data collected by the U.S. Public Land Survey in the early 1800s.
We are addressing how the spatial pattern and structure of this vegetation, as well as woody
species composition, fit a landscape fire model, with fire-sensitive communities and species
restricted to landscape fire breaks. (more..)
click here for interactive map
click here for interactive map (Illinois only)
Chicago region vegetation is organized across a soil
moisture gradient, and is thought to have been originally patterned by landscape-scale fire.
Our work with natural remnants asks: how plant species are distributed across the Chicago region?
How do they assemble into different communities that can be identified and maintained in a
natural state? and how is this vegetation changing over time, especially in response to fire
exclusion and management? These questions have very practical ramifications for understanding,
managing and restoring native vegetation. (more..)
PLANT CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION
Management and restoration of rare plants has become critical for insuring their long-term
survival. Our work with rare plants asks: What ecological and biological factors can be managed
to help maintain or restore populations? What are practical ways to restore different plant
species populations?, What genetic factors affect restoration potential? and Do restored
populations have long-term viability? Much of our work has been with three federal listed
species: Meadís milkweed, Pitcherís thistle, and the eastern prairie fringed orchid.
Our work with pre-European and
modern vegetation indicates strong fire-dependence and significant long-term degradation with
fire protection. Consequently, we are investigating effects of fire management on prairie,
wetland, savanna and forest vegetation. (more..)