The Pecan Creek Pollinative Prairie, a UNT We Mean Green Fund initiative, is a native North Central Texas tallgrass prairie reconstruction project located on four acres of the east field at the University of North Texas Discovery Park Campus.
Prairie grassland was once the most abundant biome in North America, but less than 0.1% remains, making it the most endangered habitat type on the continent (https://texasprairie.org/ 2022). Conservation of prairie habitats is integral for the overall health and biodiversity of Texas (Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas). To provide prairie habitat on the UNT campus, in May 2016, UNT Ecology staff and students initiated the We Mean Green Fund project to provide a space for students, faculty, and staff on the UNT Campus to promote conservation and sustainable urban landscaping of native habitats for declining pollinator populations, such as the American Bumblebee and Monarch Butterfly. The prairie provides ecosystem services such as: decreased soil erosion and stormwater runoff, increased carbon sequestration, recreation, and increased pollinator/avian diversity.
The four-acre prairie was installed by applying numerous restoration techniques to a field that was dominated by invasive, non-native Bermuda grass. During 2016 – 2018, over 300 undergraduate students volunteered approximately 900 hours to turn a field dominated by invasive Bermuda grass with little life into a vibrant prairie with native flowers, grasses, and pollinating insects. In October of 2019, hundreds more students helped plant over 1,000 native prairie plants to help further establish the prairie into a healthy living habitat. The ‘UNT Greenhouse Crew’ has been growing approximately 2,000 native Texas prairie grasses and flowering plants in the Environmental Science greenhouse per year since 2021. These plants are placed into the Prairie once per semester during a community workday. In the spring of 2022, the UNT Pollinative Prairie Committee was formed by students to conduct routine maintenance, plantings, observations, event planning, and outreach for the prairie.
Since 2016, over 3,000 students have assisted with solarization, seedings, mass plantings of greenhouse plants, removal of invasive species, and use of the iNaturalist application to catalogue flora and fauna at the prairie (Pollinative Prairie iNaturalist). Over 240 observers and 7,050 individual observations has led to documentation of 848 taxa. Insecta has the highest richness with 403 taxa. Out of 283 plant taxa identified, 74% are native to the north central Texas region. Avian (bird) richness has increased over time, with 50% of the 64 recorded species primarily acting as secondary or tertiary consumers. Two UNT laboratory courses visit the Prairie each semester for hands-on learning.
The UNT Pollinative Prairie Committee and the UNT chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration hosts at least two workday events to install plants, clean up trash, and document wildlife per semester. Please follow our Pecan Creek Pollinative Prairie Facebook page and Pecan Creek Pollinative Instagram for upcoming event information. You can also join the mailing list below. For questions, contact Dr. Jaime Baxter-Slye at email@example.com.
To learn more about the amazing work going on at the Pollinative Prairie, check out the following:
This project was proposed in 2016, with the combined support of the UNT Advanced Environmental Research Institute and the UNT Department of Biological Sciences, Ecology division. It was originally implemented during the 2016 – 2017 fiscal year. Additional funding for this project was approved in two additional phases for the 2018 – 2019 and 2019 – 2020 fiscal years. Continued support is provided by the UNT chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration.