Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Carbon sequestration; Conservation Reserve Program (U.S.); Prairie restoration--Environmental aspects;


The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) aims to provide ecosystem services in landscapes dominated by agriculture by converting previous agricultural fields into reconstructed prairies and wetlands. The main priorities of the program include reducing soil erosion and improving water quality, but the perennial vegetation in the fields can also provide other benefits such as increased carbon sequestration and biodiversity. These additional benefits of the program are not closely monitored, though these benefits are potentially equally valuable to the targeted program benefits. This study compared soil carbon in CRP fields and a subset of corn fields in order to determine the impact of reconstructed prairies on carbon sequestration in the landscape. Results showed that CRP fields decrease soil bulk density and increase carbon sequestration over time when compared to corn fields. This study also looked at the susceptibility of CRP fields to invasion by the weedy invasive species reed canary grass (Phalaris arundincea) and wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa). CRP fields increase the biodiversity in the landscape, which can be beneficial to natives, but also to weedy species. Results show that increased grass species richness and grass percent cover decreased the chances of reed canary grass presence in a CRP field. Likewise, increased forb species richness and forb percent cover decreased the chances of Pastinaca being present in a field. This result suggests that increased biodiversity helps decrease the chances of weedy invasion in these CRP fields. Overall, conclusions show that CRP fields have the potential to bring ecosystem services to agricultural landscapes that are not targeted by the program.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Biology


Tallgrass Prairie Center

First Advisor

Kenneth Elgersma, Chair, Thesis Committee

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (viii, 75 pages)



File Format