Date of this Version
Proceedings of the 23rd North American Prairie Conference, August 2012, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg
The Prairie Naturalist 46: 78-89. August 2014
The Loup River Valley of Nebraska contains natural, undisturbed wet meadows with significant plant diversity. Even though these sites are infrequent and are often intermixed with heavily grazed pastures or cultivated fields, they support numerous plant and animal species that do not occur elsewhere. We surveyed three study sites (an ungrazed wet meadow; a grazed wet meadow; and a riparian area) that totaled approximately 68.8 ha during the 2010 and 2011 growing seasons. We compiled an annotated vascular plants checklist for the study area that included 244 plant species of which about 49% (119) were new county records. The mean coefficient of conservatism (Cm) values for the ungrazed meadow, the grazed meadow, and the riparian site were 3.54, 3.07, and 3.35 respectively. The floristic quality indices (FQI) were 37.96 for the hay meadow, 28.14 for the grazed meadow, and 31.07 for the riparian site. Jaccard’s Index of Similarity (31.4%) indicated that the grazed and ungrazed meadows had a high degree of community similarity with each containing ~ 80% native species. Our study substantiates the significance of Nance County to the species richness and flora of Nebraska and the Great Plains. Future research and reconnaissance should include the identification and study of additional natural meadows in the lower Loup River Valley.