Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

First Advisor

Diane M. Debinski

Second Advisor

Matthew E. O'Neal

Third Advisor

Brent J. Danielson


The tallgrass prairie has become one of the most endangered ecosystems in North America. Thus, there have been attempts to restore and reconstruct native tallgrass prairie. Arthropods, the most diverse taxonomic group on the prairie, have not received adequate attention. A comprehensive arthropod survey in Iowa prairies has not been attempted since the 1930's, and therefore lacks information regarding recent prairie restoration efforts. Arthropods can also provide valuable information related to ecosystem function or biotic integrity when used as bioindicators. However, effective, reliable arthropod bioindicators have not been clearly identified. A survey of arthropods using sweep net transects was conducted on a cross-section of Iowa prairies among three prairie types: remnants, isolated restorations/reconstructions and landscape-scale integrated reconstructions. We compared the arthropod community across sampling years, sites, and site types. We used Indicator Species Analysis to identify families of insects and spiders that could be used as indicators of biotic integrity or restoration success. Arthropod communities differed slightly between years, and between prairie types. Convergence among prairies of different anthropogenic types may mean restoration efforts have been successful for the establishment of the native arthropod community. Alternatively, decades of human disturbance at the regional scale may have reduced or eliminated prairie restricted taxa. Both of these explanations may actually be accurate. Four insect families and one spider family were identified as indicators of remnant prairies, with additional taxa demonstrating some affinity to remnant sites. Indicator taxa we identified provide further support for previously identified indicators, such as ants (Formicidae), but also include taxa not previously recorded as prairie bioindicators.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Jessica Marie Orlofske



Proquest ID


OCLC Number




File Format


File Size

120 pages