Marlin Bowles, plant conservation biologist at The Morton Arboretum, received a 2010 Conservation Leadership Award from a coalition of highly-respected area conservation organizations.
Audubon’s Chicago Wilderness Habitat Project and collaborators cited Bowles for his assessment of 20-25 year changes in Chicago region forests, prairies and wetlands, which concluded that most sites, though formally protected, have deteriorated. He also concluded that fire and other management techniques are essential to halt further deterioration.
From 1998 through 2002, Bowles, working with Morton Arboretum Research Associate Michael Jones, found that in forests, light-sensitive oaks and native shrubs had declined while invasive species increased. They also found that woody vegetation was increasing at the expense of grasses and sedges in prairies and wetlands, and that few sites were receiving prescribed burns frequently enough to maintain their composition and structure.
This research project was a follow up to a 1978 Illinois Natural Areas Inventory that determined a mere 7 one-hundredths of 1 percent of Illinois still consisted of natural prairies, woodlands and wetlands.
The data Bowles and Jones collected was used to project how often fire should be employed to maintain vegetation, and to establish benchmark statistics against which future conditions can be compared.
“Our work also shows there is a need for woodland restoration and management, and provides goals for achieving these aims,” says Bowles.
Chicago Wilderness Habitat Project is seeks to ensure that engaged, empowered citizen conservationists – a network of stewards, monitors and advocates – remain closely connected with regional biodiversity efforts. Other award sponsors include Audubon- Chicago Region; Chicago Wilderness Habitat Project; Volunteer Stewardship Network; and Wild Things.
The Morton Arboretum is a world-renowned leader in tree science and education, working to save and plant trees. The 1,700-acre outdoor museum features magnificent collections of 4,117 kinds of trees, shrubs, and other plants from around the world. The Arboretum’s beautiful natural landscapes, gardens, research and education programs, and year-round family activities support its mission – the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. Conveniently located at I-88 and Rte. 53 in Lisle, Illinois, the Arboretum is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, from 7 a.m. Central Time until sunset. The Children’s Garden is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., March through October, and 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., November through February. Visit Press Room at www.mortonarb.org, call to learn more.