…in the Loess Hills of northwest Missouri, looking for additional sites for Cylindera celeripes (swift tiger beetle). Recall that we (Chris Brown and I) finally found this rarely collected species last year in Missouri (after many years of looking) in high quality remnants of loess hilltop prairie (a critically endangered natural community in Missouri). The beetle was found at Brickyard Hill, Star School Hill Prairie, and McCormack Loess Mounds Conservation Areas, which combined contain nearly half of the 50 or so acres of loess hilltop prairie still existing in Missouri. The remaining acres are located at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge and on private lands – my sincere appreciation goes out to Squaw Creek Refuge staff and three private landowners, who have all graciously extended to me (and my able field assistant Madison) access to the loess hilltop prairie remnants under their stewardship to better characterize the beetle’s distribution in the area. The sites I am visiting have varied burn histories, ranging from recent to 6 years or more since the previous burn, thus, I am also hoping to better understand the possible impact of prescribed burns on the species’ occurrence in loess hilltop prairie remnants. The beetle needs these remnants to survive, and prescribed burning is an important tool for helping to restore this natural community after decades of shrinkage due to woody encroachment. The trick will be to design management plans that accomplish these restoration objectives while at the same time minimizing possible negative impacts of the burns on existing beetle populations.
Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010