Southeastern Grasslands: Ecology and Conservation
August 13 – August 18

 High-elevation grass balds atop Roan Mountain along the North Carolina-Tennessee state line represent one of many natural grasslands within the greater Southern Appalachian region. These unique grasslands have been around for tens of thousands of years, if not much longer. Photo credit: Tennessee State Library & Archives.

High-elevation grass balds atop Roan Mountain along the North Carolina-Tennessee state line represent one of many natural grasslands within the greater Southern Appalachian region. These unique grasslands have been around for tens of thousands of years, if not much longer. Photo credit: Tennessee State Library & Archives.

 

Southeastern Grasslands: Ecology and ConservatioN

Course Title: Southeastern Grasslands: Ecology and Conservation

Where: Highlands Biological Station, Highlands, North Carolina

Dates: August 13 – August 18

Instructor: Dr. Dwayne Estes, Austin Peay University's Southeastern Grasslands Initiative

Course Description: The southeastern U.S. is home to a diverse array of native grassland communities including prairies, savannas, glades, barrens, balds, and a variety of open wet grasslands (e.g. bogs, fens, meadows). More than 90 percent of the South's original grasslands have been lost or significantly degraded. Southeastern U.S. grasslands are among North America's rarest ecosystems and they support a disproportionately large number of rare and endemic species. In spite of their obvious conservation need, grasslands have received far less attention in the Southeast compared to forests and forested wetlands, in part due to the lack of awareness that the South is one of North America's great grassland biodiversity hotspots. This workshop will help students understand why Southern grasslands have been neglected and will introduce them to the various types of Southeastern grasslands, their historical and modern distribution, biodiversity and biogeography, and current conservation status. We will focus on those of the greater Southern Appalachian region. Students will receive an introduction to the literature, gain experience with mapping grasslands, will participate in discussions of key conservation issues, and develop a better understanding of conservation strategies being employed in the Southeast to restore and re-create grasslands. Students will also tour several types of grasslands found in the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains. The ultimate purpose of the course is for students to gain a thorough understanding of how important these imperiled ecosystems are and why a paradigm shift is needed to greatly accelerate efforts to protect and conserve grasslands.

Prerequisites: Introductory biology, ecology, or permission of instructor.

Course Credits: This course may be taken for 2 academic credits. Credit is available by registering through Western Carolina University (BIOL 493 or 593). Check here for more details.

For more information: contact jj.white@segrasslands.org or check out the Highlands Biological Station website: http://highlandsbiological.org/summer-2018/.

Additional resources: www.segrasslands.org