CERA Resources


Stanton-Geddes, John and Carolyn G. Anderson. 2011. Does a facultative mutualism limit species range expansion? Oecologia.

Brudvig, L.A., Mabry, C.M. and L. Mottl. 2011. Dispersal, not light competition, limits Iowa woodland understory restoration. Restoration Ecology 19: 24-31.

Case, Andrea L. and Christina M. Caruso. 2010. A novel approach to estimating the cost of male fertility in restoration of gynodioecious plants. New Phytologist 186: 549-557.

Schilling, Keith and Peter Jacobson. 2010. Groundwater conditions under a reconstructed prairie chronosequence. Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Environment 135: 81-89.

Caruso, C. M. and A.L. Case. 2007. Sex ratio variation in gynodioecious Lobelia siphilitica: effects of population size and geographic location. Journal Compilation 2007 European Society for Evolutionary Biology: 1396-1405.

Caruso, Christina M. 2006. Plasticity of inflorescence traits in Lobelia siphilitica (Lobeliaceae) in response to soil water availability. American Journal of Botany 93(4): 531-538.

Caruso, Christina M., Hafiz Maherali, and ­Mark Sherrard. 2006. Plasticity of physiology in Lobelia: Testing for adaptation and constraint. Evolution 60(5): 980-990.

Dalgliesh, H., and K.M. Jacobson. 2005. A first assessment of genetic variation among Morchella esculenta (morel) populations. Journal of Heredity 96(3): 1-8.

Gerken, Michaeleen E. 2005. Effects of disturbance on the floristic composition and functional ecology of the herbaceous layer in central hardwood forests of Iowa. M.S. Thesis, Iowa State University. 78 pp.

McGranahan, Devan A., Shonda Kuiper, and Jonathan M. Brown. 2004. Temporal patterns in use of an Iowa woodlot during the autumn bird migration. American Midland Naturalist 153: 61-70 .

Caruso, Chris M. 2004. The quantitative genetics of floral trait variation in Lobelia: potential constraints on adaptive evolution. Evolution 58(4): 732-740.

Caruso, Chris M., S.B. Peterson, and C.E. Ridley. 2003. Natural selection of floral traits of Lobelia (Lobeliaceae). American Journal of Botany 90(9): 1333-1340.

Caruso, Chris M., H. Maherali, and R.B. Jackson. 2003. Gender-specific floral and physiological traits: implications for the maintenance of females in gynodioecious Lobelia siphilitica. Oecologia 135(4): 524-531.

Cooper, Idelle A., Elizabeth Roeder, and Jonathan M. Brown. 2003. Arthropod response to burning and mowing in a reconstructed prairie. Ecological Restoration 21 (3): 204- 205.

Robertson, Morgan M. 2001. Adjacent woodlot accelerates the dispersal rate of bur oak into an old field (Iowa). Ecological Restoration 19 (3): 181-182.

Raich, James W., Donald R. Farrar, Ruth A. Herzberg, Eenam Sin and Cindy L. Johnson-Groh. 1999. Characterization of central Iowa forests with permanent plots. Journal of the Iowa Academy Science 106(2): 40-46.

DeLong, Karl T. and Craig Hooper. 1996. A potential understory flora for oak savanna in Iowa. Journal of the Iowa Academy of Science 103(1-2): 9-28.

Christiansen, Kenneth, and Peter Bellinger. 1973. Six new nearctic species of the genus Friesea(Collembola: Poduromorpha). The Pan-Pacific Entomologist 49: 389-395.

  • Grinnell College CERA Brochure. 1969.
  • Wilson, John G. “Research Area Taking Shape.” The Newton Daily News. May 5, 1969.
  • Knauth, Otto. “Everything from Bugs to Bunnies: Woodland and Rolling Prairie Area Now a Grinnell ‘Laboratory’.” A feature of Picture Magazine of the Des Moines Sunday Register. May 11, 1969. Pp 4, 5, and 7.
  • “CERA dedication ceremony.” Grinnell Herald-Register. June 5, 1969.
  • “Grinnell College Develops Research Wilderness Area.” 1969. Iowa Soil Conservationist 22(5): 2.
  • R.R.M. 1972. “A place to preserve.” The Grinnell Magazine 4(4): 9-11.
  • Grinnell College CERA Brochure. 1975.
  • “Conard Environmental Research Area: Managing to Preserve and Educate.” 1975. The Grinnell Magazine May-June: 10.
  • Graham, Benjamin F. 1975. “CERA: An outdoor biological laboratory.” pp 379-381 In Prairie: A Multiple View, M.K. Wali (ed.), 1975, University of North Dakota Press, Grand Forks, ND.
  • “Conard area honors alumni.” Grinnell Herald-Register. April 17, 1975.
  • “Research laboratory named for conservationist.” 1975. Iowa Soil Conservationist 28(6): 3.
  • “Conservation group cites Conard area.” Grinnell Herald-Register. April 24, 1975.
  • Baker, J.L., H.P. Johnson, and J.M. Laflen. 1976. Effect of tillage systems on runoff losses of pesticides: A simulated rainfall study. Completion Report.
  • Graham, B.F. 1976. “Conard Environmental Research Area.” In: A Guide to Iowa Prairies. Paul A. Christiansen (ed.). Prepared for the 5th Midwest Prairie Conference at Iowa State University, Ames.
  • Michnya, Rosa. “Grinnell’s the place for Conard.” Scarlet and Black. April 23, 1976.
  • Grinnell College CERA Brochure. 1983.
  • Roosa, Dean, Jean C. Prior, and Ben Graham. 1987. “Conard Environmental Research Area.” Iowa Natural History Association Field Trip Guidebook 5. Sponsored by the Iowa Natural History Association, April 25, 1987.
  • McGovern, Molly. Summer 2003. “Iowa’s Oak Savannas: Rekindling a Relationship.” Highlights CERA savanna and Karl DeLong, emeritus professor of biology. Iowa Natural Heritage, published by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. pp 8-10.
  • Environmental Education Center, Grinnell College tri-fold brochure, 2005.
  • Wind Power, Grinnell College, 1/3-page insert, 2007.
  • CERA Volunteer Opportunities, Grinnell College brochure, trifold. Updated periodically.
  • Brochures and Guides from The Center for Prairie Studies including the Nature Preserves Near Grinnell, 2009, Grinnell College Center for Prairie Studies, 60 pages.

Tillers: A Journal of Prairie Restoration Research, containing original articles from students in Bio-150, Introduction to biological inquiry “Prairie restoration.”

Environmental Datasets

Invasive species pose a serious threat to our ability to preserve, restore, recreate, and maintain native ecosystems at CERA. Invasives are native or non-native species that disrupt the structure and functioning of native ecosystems. The following list includes non-native species we are trying to control in each type of habitat.

Prairie Invaders

  • Sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata)
  • Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense)
  • Crown vetch (Coronilla varia)
  • Yellow and White sweetclovers (Melilotus officinale, M. alba)
  • Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis)
  • Smooth brome (Bromus inermis)

Savanna/Woodland Invaders

  • Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora)
  • Honeysuckles (Lonicera maackii, L. tartarica)
  • Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)
  • Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis)
  • Smooth brome (Bromus inermis)

Wetland Invaders

  • Reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea)

Generalists/Disturbed Area Invaders

  • Wild carrot/Queen Anne's lace (Daucus carota)
  • Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)
  • Burdock (Arctium minus)

Control and Monitoring

Herbicides, mowing, hand-cutting, prescribed burning, and combinations of all of these methods are used to control invasives at CERA. Generally, biennial species like wild carrot, wild parsnip, and sweetclovers are controlled by cutting flowering stems prior to seed set. Perennial grasses are controlled by carefully timing prescribed fire. Herbicides are used extensively to control perennial forbs (Sericea lespedeza, Canada thistle, crown vetch) and woody shrubs and trees (multiflora rose, honeysuckles, black locust) in combination with frequent prescribed burns.

In 2008 we began two field experiments to determine the effectiveness of goats for control of multiflora rose in a wooded habitat and sericea lespedeza in a reconstructed prairie (see student research papers below). The experimental goat treatment was applied during the summers of 2008 and 2009. The goats will browse in the experimental paddocks in both habitats again in 2010, with oversight, inquiry, field data collection, and analyses by two MAP students. 

Extensive monitoring is conducted each year to evaluate the effectiveness of all control methods. Numbers and locations of cut plants are recorded in work journals and numbers and locations of plants cut and/or treated with herbicides are documented in herbicide records. Systematic monitoring data have been collected since the 2001 growing season. Contact the CERA Manager for access to these data.

Student Research

  • Alward, Sarah E. 2003. Using herbarium records to document plant invasions in Iowa. MAP, Vince Eckhart.
  • Perbix, Brian. 2008. First year of prescribed rotational goat (Capra hircus hircus) browsing in Iowa prairie: potential for controlling Lespedeza cuneata, a nonnative invasive perennial legume. MAP, Kathy Jacobson and Larissa Mottl.
  • Johnson, Curran. 2008. First year use of prescribed, rotational goat browsing to control multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), an exotic, invasive shrub in Iowa woodlands. MAP, Kathy Jacobson and Larissa Mottl.


Prescribed Fire

Prescribed fire is the most important tool we use at CERA for preserving, restoring, and reconstructing our terrestrial ecosystems.

History of Fire at CERA

Although fire was frequent enough prior to European settlement to maintain prairie and bur oak savanna over much of CERA (as indicated by the soil survey), subsequent farming, grazing, and fire suppression from the mid-1850's to 1968 converted these habitats into cultivated fields or degraded woodlands.

Fire was not reintroduced to the landscape at CERA until 1980 when the first prairie reconstruction, planted in 1969, was burned. This area included Hillcrest and Big Basin Prairies.

Since 1988, prescribed fire has been used annually to promote the establishment of new prairie reconstructions, restore structure and diversity to our remnant prairies and bur oak savannas, and control invasive species in all habitats.

Since 1997, fire has been used more extensively as a tool for student research. Experimental plots were established in a prairie reconstruction and in high quality white oak/hickory forest and have been used each year since by students in introductory and advanced biology classes. The plots have also been the focus of summer student research.

Prescribed Burn Records

Prescribed burn records are available dating back to 1991. The following data have been recorded for each burn:

  • location description
  • burn date
  • ignition time
  • end time
  • air temperature
  • wind direction
  • average wind speed (mph)
  • maximum wind speed (mph)
  • relative humidity (%)
  • notes which may include preburn preparation, weather conditions, fire behavior, effectiveness of the burn, and percent of ground cover burned.

Contact the CERA Manager for access to these data.

Other Resources

FEIS — Fire Effects Information System


CERA has a modest diversity of amphibians and reptiles. The Western Chorus Frog is probably the most abundant amphibian based on their vocalizations in the spring in ephemeral pools near the North Skunk River. Although less often observed, reptile diversity is well-represented by garter snakes, fox snakes, brown snakes, and ring-neck snakes. Since 2008, lined snakes have also been observed consistently under coverboards near our experimental prairie plots.

Coverboard transects were established in different habitats in 2002. The boards are primarily checked in late May/early June into August each year by summer restoration students. After 10 years of checking the boards (July 2002–July 2011), and over 1900 board lifts, we have observed 710 snakes representing 6 snake species, and one tiger salamander. Sixty-percent of the snakes observed have been ringnecks, 12% brown, 10% plains garter, 9% red-side garter, 4% garter spp., 2% fox, and 2% lined snakes. Bullsnakes have been rare near our Graham Lab, and smooth green snakes, though apparently observed near ant mounds in the past, have not been observed at CERA for over a decade (pre-2000).

Species Lists

  • Iowa Reptiles and Amphibians (PDF, Iowa Association of Naturalists/Iowa State University)
  • Iowa Herpetology - This site provides photos and information on the status of the species in Iowa, description, subspecies, Iowa range maps, habitat, habits, and food.
  • Iowa Threatened and Endangered Species
    • Endangered Amphibians
      • Blue-spotted Salamander- Ambystoma laterale
      • Crawfish Frog- Rana areolata
    • Endangered Reptiles
      • Yellow Mud Turtle- Kinosternon flavescens
      • Wood Turtle- Clemmys insculpta
      • Great Plains Skink- Eumeces obsoletus
      • Copperbelly Water Snake-Nerodia erythrogaster neglecta
      • Western Hognose Snake- Heterdon nasicus
      • Copperhead- Agkistrodon contortrix
      • Prairie Rattlesnake- Crotalus viridis
      • Massasauga Rattlesnake- Sistrurus catenatus
    • Threatened Amphibians
      • Mudpuppy- Necturus maculosus
      • Central Newt- Notophthalmus viridenscens
    • Threatened Reptiles
      • Slender Glass Lizard- Ophisaurus attenautus
      • Common Musk Turtle- Sternotherus odoratus
      • Blanding's Turtle- Emydoidea blandingii
      • Ornate Box Turtle- Terrapene ornata
      • Diamondback Water Snake- Nerodia rhombifera
      • Western Worm Snake- Carphophis amoenus vermis
      • Speckled Kingsnake- Lampropeltis getulus

Amphibian Field Guide

Amphibian and Reptile Observational Dataset for CERA

Years: 2001-present 
Data per observation: Date, location, species, number of individuals, other notes, observer(s) 
Availability: Excel file from the CERA Manager

Monitoring Diversity and Habitat Use

A monitoring study using artificial refuges (cover boards) was started in June 2002 after initial use of the boards to measure snake diversity around the south end of Perry Pond by a vertebrate natural history class.


The objectives of the current monitoring system are to create a species list and estimate species abundances in four habitat types: mesic, lowland tallgrass prairie, alluvial woodland, old pasture/oak savanna, and dry, upland tallgrass prairie.


Four transects of 8-9 cover boards, each cover board 3-5 m apart, were placed by Perry Pond (mesic, lowland tallgrass prairie), along Willow Creek (alluvial woodland), in South Slope Savanna (old pasture/oak savanna), and in Wilson Prairie (dry, upland tallgrass prairie) in late June 2002. The cover boards are 2'x 4', ¼" thick chipboards, each with a number spray painted on one side and a pin flag with the number next to the board. The boards are checked periodically between April and September each year.

Data Collected
  • Observation Date
  • Air Temp
  • Weather Conditions
  • Species
  • Length
  • Adult/Juvenile (based on lengths reported in literature)
  • Notes-such as presence of ants, mice, snake skins, etc.
Data Availability

Contact the CERA Manager for data available as an Excel file.

Identification Keys

Class Field Labs

Biology 201 Field Laboratory (Year(s) unknown)

This field lab introduced students to techniques of limnology by preparing an environmental profile of Perry Pond and comparing it to the last profile compiled in 1980. The lab description (on file with the CERA Manager) includes:

Fish catches: Spring 1973, Fall 1973, Spring 1974, Spring 1976, Spring 1979, Fall 1980.

Invertebrate fauna: Plankton sampled using plankton nets and counting using sedgwich rafter slides; benthic fauna sampled using Peterson dredge and hand marginal samples over meter square areas; data available for 1979.

Data: Average total organisms per collecting group;
Spring 1976, Fall 1978, Fall 1979;
Categories include producers, zooplankton, plankton feeders, benthic carnivores, benthic omnivores.

At least 113 bird species have been observed at CERA, including migrants and year-round residents. To lend perspective, Jackson et al. (1996) reported for Jasper County that 95 species were observed, 48 species were confirmed, and on average, 69 species were observed per year during Iowa Breeding Bird Atlas surveys, 1985-1990. They documented a total of 199 species present in Iowa during the survey period. Jackson, Laura Spess, Carol A. Thompson, and James J. Dinsmore. 1996. The Iowa Breeding Bird Atlas. University of Iowa Press, Iowa City.

Species Lists

  • Red-shouldered Hawk- Buteo lineatus
  • Northern Harrier- Circus cyaneus
  • Peregrine Falcon- Falco peregrinus
  • Piping Plover- Charadrius melodus
  • Common Barn Owl- Tyto alba
  • Least Tern- Sterna antillarum
  • Bald Eagle- Haliaeetus leucocephalus
  • King Rail- Rallus elegans
  • Short-eared Owl- Asio flammeus
  • Long-eared Owl- Asio otus
  • Henslow's Sparrow- Ammodramus henslowii

Field Identification Guide

Observational Dataset for CERA

  • Years: 2000-present
  • Data per observation: Date, location, species, method of identification, number of individuals (sex when identifiable), other notes, observer(s) 
  • Availability: Excel file from the CERA Manager
  • Archived datasets: McGranahan, Devan (2003)

Nest Box Monitoring

  • Ten bluebird nest boxes were installed at CERA in May 2001. The boxes are monitored periodically from April-September. 
  • Years: 2001-present 
  • Data per observation: UTM coordinates per box, status of box on observation date, including primary nest materials, nest lining, size/color/number of eggs, young, presence of adult, species, presence and type of parasites, and observer(s) 
  • Availability: Excel file from the CERA Manager
  • Archived datasets: None

Student Research

  • Stein, Freya. 2003. Iowa coyotes (Canis latrans) and the mesopredator-hypothesis: Is it a dog-eat-dog world? MAP, Vince Eckhart. [Investigated correlations between coyote, red fox, and raccoon populations and songbird populations; collected coyote scat at CERA to identify prey species] 
  • McGranahan, Devan. 2003.

Iowa Important Bird Areas (IBA) Audubon Program

The Important Bird Areas program, which began as an initiative in Europe, is a nation-wide effort that provides opportunities for citizen involvement in identifying and protecting the most critical areas for bird conservation in Iowa. Visit the website for an overview of the program, how you can participate, and to learn about areas already designated as IBAs. Areas near CERA include:

  • Neal Smith NWR (Jasper County)
  • Prairie Creek Wildlife Refuge (Marshall County)
  • Otter Creek Marsh (Tama County)
  • Fox Forest/Diamond Lake (Poweshiek County)
  • Cedar Bluffs State Preserve (Mahaska County)

North American Bird Datasets

  • North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS). This comprehensive source of information on North American birds provides access to a long-term dataset, analysis tools, and learning tools including:
    • Survey results
      • Species group summaries - population change by region and time period.
      • Trend estimates - display trends for 3 time intervals by species or region.
      • Distribution maps - relative abundance estimated over 1982-1996.
      • Trend maps - population change based on 1966-1996 interval.
    • Interactive checklists
      • Provides estimates of mean abundance from BBS data for any species, at any location in the survey area.
    • Analytical tools
      • Route level analysis - access to all information, for any species, on any BBS route.
      • Regional trend analysis - estimating population changes for any species and time interval (1966-2002), in any region.
      • Community dynamics analysis - estimating species richness from BBS data using capture-recapture based estimation procedures.
    • Learning Tools
      • Bird information - pictures, songs, and identification tips.
      • Patuxent bird quiz - test your skills in identifying North American bird songs, pictures, and breeding and wintering distributions.
      • Migratory bird research - USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.
  • Institute for Bird Populations (IBP). The Institute for Bird Populations website allows you to query information on adult populations and productivity, survivorship, habitat information, and breeding status for species in each designated region. Iowa is located in the "North-Central" region.

The aquatic ecosystems at CERA, including Willow Creek, Perry Pond, and the North Skunk River, provide habitat for a modest diversity of fish. Student research projects have been invaluable for documenting species presence in each habitat, as well as, population dynamics during the first five years after formation of Perry Pond. Eleven fish species have been observed, representing less than 10% of the species present in Iowa.

Species Lists

Iowa Fish and Fishing

Visit this Iowa Department of Natural Resources website for information on the 148 fish species in Iowa, including family characteristics, methods of identification, distribution and food habits, state record fish, tips to bring in the big one, and a brief biology on the fish.

Our understanding of fungi at CERA is growing tremendously through the research efforts of Kathy Jacobson, Associate Professor of Biology, student projects in her fungal biology course, and independent or MAP student research projects. Efforts are underway to catalog the diversity of macrofungi at CERA and to study the differences in diversity among habitats and in response to restoration practices such as canopy thinning and prescribed burning.

Species Lists

  • Iowa:
    • Iowa State University’s Herbarium
    • See also: Tiffany, L.H. and G. Knaphus. 1998. The fungi, lichens and myxomycetes of Iowa: a literature review and evaluation. Journal of Iowa Academy of Science 105: 35-44.


  • Contact Kathy Jacobson for information about and access to locally-collected fungi specimens.

  • Mycology contains a list of websites for collections in the United States and in other countries. Use menu to navigate to Collections, then Specimens.
  • New York State Museum (NYS) Mycological Herbarium Database This database includes 2,734 new species and varieties. Search by genus, species, variety, or author.
  • New York Botanical Garden Online Specimen Catalogs This catalog contains 19,445 records, including both types and non-types. Search by family, taxon, type publication, collector, collection number, determiner, county, state/province, county/municipality, city, and locality.
Student Research
  • Meckel, Michaela. 2003. Macrofungal biodiversity in CERA's oak-hickory and riparian forests. MAP, Kathy Jacobson.
  • Mynsberge. 2003. Macrofungal biodiversity in oak-hickory and second growth forests at CERA. MAP, Kathy Jacobson.
  • Iowa Endangered Mammals
    • Indiana Bat Myotis sodalis
    • Plains Pocket Mouse Perognathus flavescens
    • Red-backed Vole Clethrionomys gapperi
    • Spotted Skunk Spilogale putorius
  • Iowa Threatened Mammals
    • Least Shrew Cryptotis parva
    • Souther Bog Lemming Synaptomys cooperi

Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis) is a federal and state listed endangered species. The bat migrates into Iowa in the spring and uses trees for maternity roost colonies during the summer months. It is known to roost in Jasper County. Suitable habitat includes roost trees in areas with at least 15% tree cover within 0.5 mile and a permanent water source within 0.5 mile. Roost trees are over 9 inches DBH and include shagbark and shellbark hickory, either dead or alive, and bitternut hickory; American elm, slippery elm, eastern cottonwood, silver maple, white oak, red oak, post oak, and shingle oak that are dead and have plates or slabs of loose bark on the trunks or branches.

Observational Data Set for CERA

Years: 2000-present Data per observation: Date, location, species, number of individuals, notes, observer(s) Availability: Excel file from the CERA Manager.

Student Research

  • Madson, Chris. 1969. Size, distribution, and movement of squirrel populations in two woodlots on the Conard Experimental Research Area. Biology, Karl DeLong. [capture-recapture of fox squirrels; estimates of squirrel populations in two areas of CERA; also estimates of individual territoriality, range size based on trap data; includes weather, capture-recapture, and individual squirrel movement data]
  • Murch, Don and Dave Wright. 1974. Further study of the western fox squirrel at CERA. Biology. [capture-recapture, ear-tagging of fox squirrels; estimates of squirrel home range of 250 yd. x 300 yd. wooded area at CERA (average = 115 yards); estimates of homing rates of squirrels, maximum distance = 1100 yards; observed imbalance in trapping ratio between males and females; includes capture-recapture, homing distance data, and maps of areas trapped]
  • Madson, Chris. (1970?) Population and activity concentrations in the western fox squirrel on the Conard Experimental Research Area. [observation, capture-release, and tree examination methods in oak-hickory woodland of CERA; estimates of centers of activity and population concentrations of fox squirrels; population concentration found in ravine of wooded area studied; includes map of location of population in studied area, capture data, observations, and squirrel residence data]
  • Madson, Christopher. 1971. Behavior patterns of the western fox squirrel (Sciurus niger rufiventer) in and around its residences. Biology, Independent Project. Karl DeLong. [observational methods in oak-hickory woodland of CERA; fox squirrels observed to have few territorial tendencies; includes figures of traps used, squirrel sighting data]
  • Carroll, Shauna. 1986. Fox squirrel vocalizations. Independent Project. [observation in wooded areas on Grinnell College campus; tail movement and vocalizations recorded in response to multiple predators; includes tail movement figures, categories of vocalizations]
  • Cooper, Idelle A., Elizabeth Roeder, and Jonathan M. Brown. 2003. Arthropod response to burning and mowing in a reconstructed prairie. Biology. [pitfall traps, vegetation sweeping, and Berlese extraction methods, measured soil temperature and sampled above- and belowground arthropods 1 and 2 weeks after mowing on 10 regularly-burned 10-m x 10-m plots; identified variation in responses of 16 insect taxa; lower abundance in many aboveground taxa but no change in underground taxa was found due to mowing, greater abundance of aboveground taxa and lower number of belowground taxa were found due to burning]
  • Janson, Tor. 1999. A restoration benchmark: assessment of CERA's Lepidoptera and comparison to other prairies. Prairie Studies Independent Research, Prof. Jackie Brown and Prof. Liz Queathem. [voucher specimens collected; Pollard method of butterfly transect counts; 4 transect routes, 180-m each, censused once a week in June, July, and August, walking time 9-11.5 minutes; routes located in Lab Prairie, Perley Prairie, South Slope Savanna, and Wilson Prairie; similar routes at Reichelt and Krumm, different method at Broken Kettle Grasslands in the Loess Hills; calculated Simpson's Diversity index, Coefficient of Community to measure similarity of nectar sources and butterfly populations; 36 species observed at CERA, 9 prairie spp, 7 of conservation concern; site was only factor significantly affecting spp richness, abundance, and diversity; evaluated nectar sources, compiled list of host plants for spp of potential conservation concern]
  • Dubach, Brent. 1968. Fluctuations in populations of Collembola in the Conard Environmental Research Area. Independent Project. [collected core samples (6 inches deep, 24 total) from four plots (30 yards square area), measured abundance of Collembola species, temperature, and water content in each core; range of mean temperature readings (°F) = 34-86º, average water content = 37.7% - 34.4% across plots; each core density = 200cc., volume per sample = 600cc., total volume for entire study = 14400cc; 1062 total Collembola collected, average Collembola density=7.38x104 per cubic meter; 22 species identified, Orchesella sinsliei most abundant species in study (17.1% of total Collembola), total of 186 specimens recorded, Onychiurus subtenuis and Pseudosinella violenta also abundant; data available: distribution of Collembola species over plots, physical factors: water content and soil moisture]
  • Breed, Mike. 1972. A comparative study of insect communities at Conard Environmental Research Area. Independent Project, Prof. Ken Christiansen.[Sweep net, light trap, and pitfall jars; collected in prairie, oak-hickory forest, and “old field” habitats; contains data on 98 insect families for each September 1972 collection date; also some data on larvae, but identified only to order, not family; breakdown of families by niche, plant feeding group, and habitat; concludes that forest is most diverse area]
  • McDonald, Tami. 1994. Genetic diversity within and between populations of Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans) in Iowa tallgrass prairie remnants. Advanced Population Biology, Stephen Trumbo. [Cellulose acetate electrophoresis for allozymes of 3 enzymes (PGI, PGM, and ME) of S. nutans populations from CERA, Reichelt, Turner Station, and the Skunk River Prairie Remnant (20 individuals at each location); determined allele/genotype frequencies, inbreeding coefficients, genetic identity, and genetic diversity (expected heterozygosity); populations significantly inbred and significantly less heterozygous than expected; populations were also genetically similar, and nearly identical at the three loci]
  • Jackson, Andrea. 1994. Genetic diversity of Aster laevis at the Conard Environmental Research Area. Stephen Trumbo. [Cellulose acetate electrophoresis for allozymes of 3enzymes (PGI and PGM) of 49 individuals from 8 subpopulations of A. laevis at CERA; determined observed and expected heterozygosity, number of alleles, proportion of polymorphic alleles, inbreeding coefficient, and genetic structure; observed and expected heterozygosity mostly nonsignificant; for population as a whole, variation, proportion of polymorphic loci, and number of alleles per loci are high; heterozygosity lower than expected; most subpopulations not inbred]
  • Bjork, Rebecca. An analysis of wind damage in the CERA woodlot. Independent Project, Karl DeLong. [recording damage of tree population at CERA; Red Oak and Bur Oak showed highest susceptibility to damage, White Oak, Hackberry more resilient to wind damage; includes relative densities of species in 3 areas, data on relative damage as proportion of total, and diagram of possible windflow]
  • Werntz, James. 1982. Floodplain tree growth and species distribution at the N.E. corner of CERA. Biology, Benjamin Graham. [measuring, collection, soil sampling methods; height, diameter measured for every tree species in 400 square meter quadrats, moisture content determined in soil at each tree; soil moisture content ranged along gradient between quadrats, diversity and size of trees decreases along gradient; includes map of sampling area, species-collected and habitat characterization list, raw data from each quadrat, average density of species tables, soil analysis, and photographs of dominant species in each quadrat]
  • deGroh, Teresa. 1982. Airborne pollen study at CERA. Biology, Benjamin Graham. [airborne pollen sampling methods, counting of pollen grains on microscope slides, identification of pollen; includes raw data on pollen counted per genus at each site, photographs of each site]
  • Vognar, Linda. 1971. Characterization of weed genera by soil type at the Conard Field Station. Independent Project, Benjamin Graham. [soil sampling, plant growing, identification methods; includes growth rate tables of genera classified, population graphs, soil types, growth rates in soil types]
  • Reihman, Mary Ann. 1969. A taxonomic study of the Conard Environmental Research Area in summer 1969. Benjamin Graham. [plant collection and identification methods; includes a list of all plants collected during the summer, major classes families arranged alphabetically]
  • Daugherty, Jerome. 1969. A study of weed population on the Henry S. Conard Environmental Research Area. Ecology, Independent Project, Benjamin Graham [soil sampling, plant growing methods; classification/identification, variety and density of weeds in currently cultivated corn and bean fields, fallow fields, and established pastures; includes raw data of weed species and their location, frequency and density of species in their locations, variety of species, and a map detailing sampling locations]
  • Wall, Richard. 1968. Fall flora of the Environmental Research Area. Independent Project, Benjamin Graham. [collection and identification methods; approx. 25 species identified; includes list of species and their general location in CERA]

Species Lists

  • Iowa Threatened and Endangered Species (Butterflies only)
    • Endangered
      • Dakota Skipper Hesperia dacotae
      • Ringlet Coenonympha tullia
    • Threatened
      • Poweshiek Skipperling Oarisma poweshiek
      • Byssus Skipper Problema byssus
      • Mulberry Wing Poanes massasoit
      • Silvery Blue Glaucopsyche lygdamus
      • Baltimore Euphydryas phaeton
    • Special Concern
      • Dreamy Duskywing Erynnis icelus
      • Sleepy Duskywing Erynnis brizo
      • Columbine Duskywing Erynnis lucilius
      • Wild Indigo Duskywing Erynnis baptisiae
      • Ottoe Skipper Hesperia ottoe
      • Leonardus Skipper Hesperia l. leonardus
      • Pawnee Skipper Hesperia leonardus pawnee
      • Beardgrass Skipper Atrytone arogos
      • Zabulon Skipper Poanes zabulon
      • Broad-winged Skipper Poanes viator
      • Sedge Skipper Euphyes dion
      • Two-spotted Skipper Euphyes bimacula
      • Dusted Skipper Atrytonopsis hianna
      • Salt-and-pepper Skipper Amblyscirtes hegon
      • Pipevine Swallowtail Battus philenor
      • Zebra Swallowtail Eurytides marcellus
      • Olympia White Euchloe olympia
      • Purplish Copper Lycaena helloides
      • Acadian Hairstreak Satyrium acadicum
      • Edward's Hairstreak Satyrium edwardsii
      • Hickory Hairstreak Satyrium caryaevorum
      • Striped Hairstreak Satyrium liparops
      • Swamp Metalmark Calephelis mutica
      • Regal Fritillary Speyeria idalia
      • Baltimore Euphydryas phaeton ozarkae

Identification Key

Key to common small soil animals.


  • Cooper, Idelle A., Elizabeth Roeder, and Jonathan M. Brown. 2003. Arthropod response to burning and mowing in a reconstructed prairie. Ecological Restoration 21(3): 204-205.

Species Lists

  • Seeding and Planting Records (contact the CERA Manager)
  • Iowa Flora: Eilers, Lawrence & Dean M. Roosa. 1994. The Vascular Plants of Iowa: An annotated checklist and natural history. University of IA Press, Iowa City.
  • Iowa Threatened and Endangered Species

Plant Phenological Records

These observations have been recorded in field notes by the CERA Manager and are not necessarily for the purpose of monitoring specific species. As such they are not being collected in a systematic way. However, records may be sorted by species, location, and observation date to investigate phenologies of several species and obtain some distribution data. Contribute your own observations of plant phenology at CERA by submitting a field observation form.
Years: 2000–present
Data per observation: Date, location, species, flowering status, fruiting status, additional notes (height, specific location, etc.)
Availability: Excel file from the CERA Manager.

Monitoring Native Species

The following species have been monitored to follow survival and flowering of transplants, establishment from seed, or survival, flowering, and growth of small remnant populations.

  • Prairie violets (Viola pedatifida)
  • Purple oxalis (Oxalis violacea)
  • Shooting star (Dodecatheon meadii)
  • New Jersey tea (Ceonothus americanus)
  • Solomon's seal (Polygonatum biflorum)
  • False Solomon's seal (Smilacina racemosa)
  • Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)
  • Green dragon (Arisaema dracontium)
  • Wild leek (Allium tricoccum)
  • Red baneberry (Actaea rubra)
  • Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia)
  • Beakgrass (Diarrhena americana)

Other Resources

Monitoring is a critical way for us to record benchmarks that we can use to gauge the effectiveness of our restoration efforts. Restoration at CERA primarily involves canopy thinning, prescribed fire, invasive species control, and seeding and transplanting. Data and other observations recorded for areas undergoing restoration can also be valuable for research projects. The types of data available for each area differ; for more information, please contact the CERA Manager.

Student Research

Shakir, Zainab. 2001. The effects of seeding history, life history characteristics and management practices on the introduction success of native species in reconstructed prairies at the Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA). MAP, Vince Eckhart. [Floristic surveys of 6 prairie reconstructions varying in burn and seeding histories: Perley, Perley Fall Burn, Perley 2 Year Burn, Deaner, Perley No Burn, and the Lab Prairie; collected data twice in each area on the presence of 26 species; investigated relationships between frequency and seeding year, seed density, ability to fix nitrogen; no consistent relationships were found between introduction success and seeding and life history variables; only the Lab Prairie did total number of seed introductions predict frequency.]

Robertson, Morgan M. 2001. History, restoration and fire-management of an abrupt prairie-forest ecotone. Karl DeLong.


Robertson, Morgan M. 2001. Adjacent woodlot accelerates the dispersal rate of bur oak into an old field (Iowa). Ecological Restoration 19(3): 181-182.

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