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Friday, August 16, 2013

Survivor: Green Roof Edition

The Berry Prairie made its professional ecological debut last week at the annual Ecological Society of America conference in Minneapolis, MN. And although the final survivorship numbers were not as high as we may have liked (~52%) the Prairie was well received and ecologist from all over the world were excited to hear about the roof and the ecosystem services it helped facilitate. 


As I mentioned, only about half of the total individuals planted on the Berry Prairie have survived (Table 1). It is likely that last summer’s untimely transplant had a large impact on the overall robustness of the plants resulting in a decline from ~94% survival in July 2012 to the ~52% in July of 2013.

This is not entirely bad news. After all, part of this experiment was to identify taxa that will do well… and doing well, even with all things considered, suggests that those groups of plants would be wise to consider for future green roofs in semi-arid environments. Further analysis of the vegetation data will help us determine which plants may be successful by evaluating functional groups, families and types of metabolism.


In layman’s terms: The bugs were a boon for the Berry Prairie. Our arthropod surveys have identified 13 orders within 3 classes of invertebrates and 8 families within 4 of these orders are noted for their pollinator services (Table 2).

Collembola refers to Springtails, those neat, tiny bugs that use their tail-like appendage to fling themselves up into the air if danger approaches.  Arachnida are, of course, arachnids or spiders.  Insecta, or insects, included flies, beetles, bees and wasps, butterflies and moths.

On a More Personal Note

This summer concludes my active evaluation of the Berry Center green roof. The Berry Prairie has been an incredible learning experience, an exciting challenge and singularly beautiful project to be involved with.

The Berry Prairie will continued to be monitored and studied, so stay tuned for all the exciting science to come from the Berry Center and the Biodiversity Institute.

Written by Kyle Bolenbaugh, UW Botany

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