The Monahan Outdoor Education Center is a reclaimed mining site and mine waste dump owned by Pittsburg State University. The site had been reduced to a barren state by the toxicity of the waste dumped there. From 1984-1985 a reclamation process attempted to replant the Monahan with natural grasses. This was a multi-step process that included adding layers of rock and topsoil to the mine waste before seeding the grasses. The reclamation process was mean to re-vegetate the land and control runoff and soil erosion. Multiple PSU graduate studies have been conducted on the Monahan. The first, by Vickers in 1989, evaluated the re-vegetation process in the years following reclamation. The second, by Imhoff in 1994, evaluated soil quality and found that little to no progress had been made in overall soil quality at the Monahan. The third, by Yates in 1996, evaluated the grassland community using a multivariate statistical approach. Today the Monahan is a mosaic of woods, grassland, and wetlands.
In this study the plan community on the grassland portion of the Monahan was sampled in order to evaluate the Functional Diversity of the species found there. Functional Diversity is a field of analysis that helps to estimate the Biodiversity of a sample area through an analysis of the functional traits in present species and their interaction with the rest of the ecosystem. Functional Diversity is a developing field and many different statistical indexes have been proposed. This study follows the index laid out by Villeger et.al. in the 2008 paper New Multidimensional Functional Diversity Indices for the Mulifaceted Framework in Functional Ecology.
Another important aspect of this study is the comparison of current data to past data. Results from this study will be compared to a previous Pittsburg State University graduate study by Yates in 1996. This comparison will hopefully yield insight into the community development of this site over the years since its reclamation. The experimental design of this study was largely drawn from Yates’s thesis. In each of the 45 plots, 5 sampling quadrats were randomly assigned. In each quadrat the species found there were recorded and percent cover was estimated. This is an ongoing study, and while not all parameters have been analyzed at this time, we will present some basic comparisons of diversity, richness and dominance.
Heil, Jacob; Smith, Dixie; Jayawardhana, Annanda; and Snow, Neil, "Comparing Changes in Plant Functional Diversity Over 31 Years of Community Development" (2015). Paper Presentations. 14.