WSC Ecology Study Area
The WSC Ecology Study Area includes the wet meadow area to the west and the upland prairie to the north. Dr. Charles Maier planted many of the trees in this area and planted a small section of native tallgrass prairie plants. He also established the beds along the trail that showcase individual plants.
The Life Sciences department is now enlarging the prairie area so that students and community members can have a better sense of what this area was like 150 years ago, before Euro-American settlement. Students majoring in Biology and students taking Life Science general education courses use this area for study.
Down the hill, north of the tennis courts, a constructed wet meadow was established in 1999. At that time, banks were established to retain water in the ravine and native plant seeds were sown around the perimeter of the wetland area.
Native grasses like big bluestem and side-oats grama are becoming established. Also, forbs (plants with showy flowers) such as prairie coneflower and plains coreopsis are becoming common. When water is retained in the pond, wood ducks have been seen landing in the water and chorus frogs can be heard.
This prairie is a work in progress. Non-native brome grass and Siberian elm trees are being removed and native prairie plants are being seeded. Slowly, this area will be transformed into a tallgrass prairie similar to the prairies that occupied most of eastern Nebraska before they were plowed under.
The tallgrass prairie of Nebraska contained few trees; frequent fires would kill the tree seedlings. To first establish prairie, non-native plants must be removed, then native plant species can be planted.
For more information about the Wayne State College Ecological Study Area, contact [email protected].