Friday, July 03, 2009

Prairie Plants Associated With McCoy Creek, Berrien County, Michigan

Thompson (1983) assessed the floral composition of 26 prairie stands in southern Michigan from 1972-1981. His study sites included the Dayton Prairie (located on Curran Road at McCoy Creek 2 miles southeast of Dayton) and the McCoy Fen (along the railroad tracks southwest of Buchanan at McCoy Creek).

Thompson’s Dayton Prairie site corresponds with the Dayton Wet Prairie Preserve owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy since 1978. His McCoy Fen site is situated near where Bakertown Road crosses McCoy Creek and the Amtrak railroad tracks. It probably corresponds closely with Kohring’s (1981) Bakertown Fen, which she described thusly:
Bakertown Fen, in Berrien County, Buchanan Township, T7S, R18W, Section 34, SE1/4, is located on both sides of the [Amtrak] tracks from mile post 119.5 to 200. The fen and wet prairie soils are Houghton Muck with a pH of 7.2. This fen encompasses both wet and mesic prairies. The area has White Lady’s-Slipper (Cypripedium candidum), Spotted Phlox (Phlox maculata), Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium reptans), Sullivant’s Coneflower (Rudbeckia sullivantii), and Rosinweed (Silphium integrifolium) which are all on the Michigan list of threatened plants. Valerian (Valeriana ciliata), which is listed as rare, is also present.
Thompson (1983) tabulated 204 species of "prairie plants" on the 26 study sites, including a combined total of 123 species at Dayton Prairie and McCoy Fen. Of these 123 species, 92 were documented at Dayton Prairie, 111 at McCoy Fen, and 79 at both sites, yielding an index of similarity of 0.78 for the two prairie floras. These sites are located less than two miles apart along the upper reaches of McCoy Creek. Both of these prairies are described (Thompson 1983) as being occupied to some extent by prairie fen communities, a unique and increasingly rare wetland habitat in Michigan (Spiels et al. 1991).

In an earlier paper, Thompson (1981) provided a comprehensive list of 176 plant species found on the Dayton Prairie based on visits from 1974 to 1977. Kohring (1983) found a total of 273 species at Bakertown Fen during surveys in spring and fall 1978 , and reported the following dominants in decreasing order: Eleocharis spp., Carex spp., Thelypteris palustris, Solidato spp., Andropogon gerardi, Aster spp., and Cacalia tuberosa. Thompson's (1983) composite list of "prairie plants" from Dayton Prairie and McCoy Fen was dominated by composites (46 species), grasses (12), and legumes (7).

Most of the 123 species documented by Thompson (1983) at the Dayton Prairie and/or McCoy Fen are broadly distributed, but 25 are notable for being (a) of relative rare occurrence (i.e., recorded at 7 or fewer of the 26 sites studied), or (b) for being "special plants" in Michigan (i.e., Endangered, Threatened, or of Special Concern). Twelve of these "rare" species occurred at Dayton Prairie, 23 at McCoy Fen, and 10 at both sites. These species are not necessarily rare in the context of the broader landscape, just relatively rare in the prairie/fen sites studied by Thompson:
  • Arnoglossum plantagineum (=Cacalia tuberosa), Groovestem Indian Plantain: 2 sites, including McCoy Fen.
  • Bidens connata, Purplestem Beggarticks: 6 sites, including Dayton Prairie and McCoy Fen.
  • Bromus ciliatus, Fringed Brome: 2 sites, including McCoy Fen.
  • Campanula aparinoides, Marsh Bellflower: 7 sites, including McCoy Fen.
  • Cypripedium candidum, White Lady’s Slipper: 5 sites, including Dayton Prairie and McCoy Fen. State Threatened. Abstract (.pdf).
  • Dasiphora (=Potentilla) fruticosa, Shrubby Cinquefoil: 6 sites, including Dayton Prairie and McCoy Fen.
  • Dichanthelium (=Panicum) oligosanthes, Heller’s Rosette Grass: 5 sites, including McCoy Fen.
  • Dodecatheon meadia, Pride of Ohio, or Shooting Star: 4 sites, including Dayton Prairie and McCoy Fen. State Endangered.
  • Eryngium yuccifolium, Button Eryngo, or Rattlesnake Master: 5 sites, including McCoy Fen. State Threatened.
  • Gentiana crinita, Greater Fringed Gentian: 7 sites, including McCoy Fen.
  • Heliopsis helianthoides, Smooth Oxeye: 5 sites, including McCoy Fen.
  • Hierochloe hirta (=odorata), Northern Sweetgrass: 7 sites, including Dayton Prairie and McCoy Fen.
  • Lobelia kalmii, Ontario Lobelia: 7 sites, including Dayton Prairie and McCoy Fen.
  • Mentha arvensis, Wild Mint: 7 sites, including Dayton Prairie.
  • Phlox maculata, Wild Sweet William: 2 sites (Dayton Prairie and McCoy Fen). State Threatened.
  • Polemonium reptans, Greek Valerian, or Jacob’s Ladder: 3 sites, including McCoy Fen. State Threatened.
  • Rudbeckia fulgita (=sullivantii), Orange Coneflower: 3 sites, including McCoy Fen.
  • Rudbeckia lascinata, Cutleaf Coneflower: 3 sites, including McCoy Fen.
  • Silphium integrifolium, Wholeleaf Rosinweed: 10 sites, including Dayton Prairie and McCoy Fen. State Threatened
  • Solidago patula, Roundleaf Goldenrod: 6 sites, including McCoy Fen.
  • Solidago uliginosa, Bog Goldenrod: 5 sites, including Dayton Prairie and McCoy Fen.
  • Symphyotrichum (=Aster) praealtus, Willowleaf Aster: 6 sites, including Dayton Prairie. State Special Concern.
  • Triantha (=Tofieldia) glutinosa, Sticky Tofieldia: 5 sites, including McCoy Fen.
  • Valeriana edulis var. ciliata, Tobacco Root, or Edible Valerian: 8 sites, including Dayton Prairie and McCoy Fen. State Threatened.
  • Zigadenus elegans (=glaucus), Mountain Deathcamas: 6 sites, including McCoy Fen.
  • References:

    Kohring, Margaret A. 1981. Saving Michigan’s railroad strip prairies (.pdf). Pp. 150-151 in Proceedings of the 6th North American Prairie Conference (Ronald L. Stuckey and Karen J. Reese, eds.). Ohio Biological Survey Notes 15.
    http://images.library.wisc.edu/EcoNatRes/EFacs/NAPC/NAPC06/reference/econatres.napc06.mkohring.pdf

    Kohring, Margaret A. 1983. Effect of a fall burn on Bakertown Fen (Berrien Co., Michigan) (.pdf). P. 265 in Proceedings of the 7th North American Prairie Conference (Clare L. Kucera, ed.). Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri.
    http://images.library.wisc.edu/

    Spieles, J. B., P. J. Comer, D. A. Albert, and M. A. Kost. 1999. Natural community abstract for prairie fen (.pdf). Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, Michigan. 4 pp.
    http://web4.msue.msu.edu/mnfi/abstracts/ecology/Prairie_fen.pdf

    Thompson, Paul W. 1981. Flora of Dayton Prairie: a remnant of Terre Coupee Prairie, in Michigan. Pp. 148-150 in Proceedings of the 6th North American Prairie Conference (Ronald L. Stuckey and Karen J. Reese, eds.). Ohio Biological Survey Notes 15.
    http://images.library.wisc.edu/EcoNatRes/EFacs/NAPC/NAPC06/reference/econatres.napc06.pthompson.pdf

    Thompson, Paul W. 1983. Composition of prairie stands in southern Michigan and adjoining areas (.pdf). Pp. 105-111 in Proceedings of the 8th North American Prairie Conference (Richard Brewer, ed.). Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan.
    http://images.library.wisc.edu/EcoNatRes/EFacs/NAPC/NAPC08/reference/econatres.napc08.pthompson.pdf

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