Peschel Wins SER-MWGL Student Research Award for 2017


Anna Peschel at work in her greenhouse with the subject of her research, Chamaecrista fasciculata (Partridge pea).  Plants will be hand pollinated to produce seed that she will sow into the field this fall.

Anna Peschel, a PhD student at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus, won the award for her research which tackles the persistent and challenging question of local adaptation.  Peschel said in her research award proposal that she is interested specifically in the critical question of whether “adaptive evolution can proceed at a sufficiently rapid pace to maintain population fitness and demographic stability.”   The question of species persistence in the age of climate change is especially relevant, Peschel emphasizes.

Peschel’s will be awarded $1000 by the Midwest Great Lakes Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration to help support her research.  This is the third year that a student research award has been offered to student members for work done in the seven-state chapter area.   Previous winners include Becky Barak in 2016 and Amy Alstad in 2015.


Peschel at the McCarthy Lake WMA in Minnesota, one of her field sites.

Peschel’s work is focused on the tall grass prairie region of Minnesota that once covered 18 million acres, but now less than two percent remains.  Peschel says in her research proposal, “Tallgrass prairie plants are at risk of extinction from climate change unless adaptation by natural selection restores the growth rates of their populations to levels that maintain them.”

Peschel’s research will use the annual prairie legume, partridge pea as a focal organism to represent tall grass prairie plants and her research will attempt to determine its “adaptive capacity along an aridity gradient mimicking environmental conditions predicted to reach eastern Minnesota in 25-30 years.”


Precipitation exclusion structures Peschel will employ to mimic drought.

The results of Peschel’s research will be presented at SER MWGL’s annual meeting next April in Steven’s Point, Wisconsin.

Online Learning for Volunteer Stewards: Latest Webinar in SER MWGL Series

Strengthening Resources for Ecological Restoration

Save the Date:  May 24, 2017 at 1pm CT/2pm ET

Please join us to learn how The Morton Arboretum is developing a new blended learning format to support educational needs of volunteer stewards conducting restoration. The multimedia initiative combines online modules, field experiences, and traditional classes. This teaching style allows audiences to access interactive course materials from home computers,

Register for Free At:

Restoration and the Season of Migrations…

Over the weekend we celebrated International Migratory Bird Day with a hike around one of the Cook County forest preserves, Crabtree Nature Center.   It was gratifying to see the ongoing restoration progress at this site – which seems to be getting better year by year.   One of our favorite trails goes out into open grasslands – which has gotten recent attention over the past winter via the clearing of some dead ash trees and other secondary and invasive species:



While the sight of this wood pile might be off putting to some, it’s worth reminding visitors what’s at stake here: the expansion and improvement of grassland habitat, which currently makes up a tiny fraction of the Illinois landscape.   I was happy to see a (deer-nibbled!) Jack-in-the-Pulpit bravely emerging from the newly cleared ground plane:


Looking in a different direction, one can see where controlled burns have also been employed:


These open fields descend gradually into adjacent wetlands.  What’s the payoff?  In just this section of the trail we were treated to distant view of two Sandhill cranes that have apparently nested here this year, as well as the sound of a Sora calling from the wet areas nearby:


Elsewhere in the vicinity we caught glimpses of a possible osprey, and migrating American white pelicans.  Such restoration efforts help provide habitat for these amazing birds.   Keep looking up!


Attention Illinois SER MWGL members!

Are you considering attending the 2017 Illinois Native Plant Society (INPS) annual gathering June 2-4 at Augustana College, Rock Island, IL.

If so, Mike Lemke, Illinois state representative to the Midwest Great Lakes Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER MWGL) invites everyone to stop by the SER information table or to join him Saturday, June 3 for that evening’s scheduled events.

The Illinois Native Plant Society has extended a special invitation to Illinois members of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) Midwest Great Lakes Chapter to its meeting activities! The meeting features speakers and field trips to nearby natural areas and will have plenty of time for socializing.

For more information about the meeting click on this web link: Mike Lemke can be reached at

See you there!

Mike Lemke, Illinois representative to the SER MWGL board of directors.


Just a Few Days Left to Apply for Student Restoration Research and Practice Grants from SER MWGL

Grant Applications Due This Friday May 5

SER MWGL is pleased to offer a Student Restoration Practice Grant and Student Restoration Research Grant. Applications are typically due in early spring.

This year’s Application Deadline: May 5, 2017. Awards will be announced by May 31, 2017.

Grants are competitive and available to student Chapter members at any institution of higher education occurring within the region of SER MWGL Chapter. SER MWGL covers the states of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.  Award recipients will be announced on the chapter blog and the recipient will be expected to present an oral or poster presentation about their funded project at the Annual Chapter Meeting one year later.

Student Restoration Practice Grant: To encourage and support student involvement the practice of ecological restoration within the regional boundaries of SER MWGL Chapter. The Chapter will award one grant of up to $1,000 to an eligible student, student group, or student-oriented group to be used for supplies, equipment, and other items that will support implementation of restoration practices. See 2017 SER MWGL Student Restoration Practice Grant RFP.

Student Restoration Research Grant: To encourage and support student involvement in research in ecological restoration within the regional boundaries of the SER MWGL Chapter. The Chapter will award one grant of up to $1,000 to an eligible student to be used for research supplies, travel, equipment and other needs. See 2017 SER MWGL Student Restoration Research Grant RFP.

See Past Grant Recipients.