Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Kathryn Docherty

Second Advisor

Dr. Dave Karowe

Third Advisor

Dr. Keith Kothman


Bacteria, soil, prairie, fire, restoration

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Tallgrass prairies have virtually disappeared in many parts of their former range due to the conversion of this ecosystem to farmland. In more recent years there have been efforts to restore these prairies on reclaimed agricultural land. However, these restored prairies do not resemble their remnant counterparts in many ways, such as in soil microbial community composition and metrics related to carbon storage. In Chapter 1, I show that bacterial communities in a restored prairie and an adjacent remnant prairie in southwest Michigan differ in their immediate and longer-term responses to prescribed fire, a commonly used prairie restoration and maintenance technique. Overall, results show that bacterial communities in the remnant prairie were more resilient to the prescribed fire event than the bacterial communities in the restored prairie. In Chapter 2, I explore the effects of carbon addition in the form of pure cellulose and plant biomass as well as the effects of plants and soil type on soil microbial communities and metrics related to carbon storage and in two new prairie restorations, one in southwest Michigan and one in eastern Minnesota. We found that through biomass addition there were increases in metrics related to carbon storage in both prairies when plants were present. Conversely, the response of the soil microbial communities differed in these two restorations in response to carbon addition and the presence of plants suggesting that differences in soil type can set restorations of different trajectories.