October 30, Chad's Garden

Here is another installment of Chad's Garden

Posted: Oct 30, 2018 4:26 PM
Updated: Oct 30, 2018 10:47 PM

Our Corn Belt Till Plain (Called Tipton Till Plain In Indiana) vs. Pannonian Plain........

In the broad till & lake plains of our viewing area, tallgrass prairie of largely mesic to wet type & oak barrens & savanna were prominent before & at European settlement.  When you get closer to rivers & in ravines & east & southeastward in the area, you encounter more & more of what was historically forest. 

In looking at regions of the world, there is one area that not only shares our climate, but has nearly the exact ecosystem of prairies,  barrens & savannas.  It is the "Breadbasket of Europe" (the other breadbasket would be the North European Plain from France, through Germany to Poland) or the Pannonian Plain.  It encompasses much of Hungary, eastern Croatia, northern Serbia, a good chunk of Romania & far southwestern Slovakia, even far eastern Austria.  The dark mollisols are very similar to those soils in many parts of our area. 

Prairie Period & Medieval Optimum Here & In Eastern Europe.......

What is so fascinating is that when marshes or lakes are cored, the pollen assemblages from this area are very similar to those here.  They all indicate a hot, dry, prairie period 4000-8000 years ago & even in Medieval times.  So, this "prairie period" may have been a world-wide phenomenon where the sun's energy output was unusually high & there were a record number of sunspots.  Also, native populations in North America (including Indiana) & over Europe flourished at this time with increased wildfire burning.  We know that during the Medieval Prairie Period that grapes were grown in Great Britain's warming & drying climate (it was reported that it produced the finest wines in Europe).  Growing grapes ton such a scale there now is next to impossible.

This abstract from of Magdalena Moskal-del Hoy, Maria Lityńska-Zając, Pál Raczk & Alexandra Anders of Eötvös Loránd University discusses the first main prairie period phenomenon while doing research on the Hungarian, Serbian, Romanian prairies & barrens.

The aim of this paper is to compare the wood charcoal assemblages from several archaeological sites near Polgár (north-eastern Hungary) with the pollen records of the same area in order to infer the character of forest communities that developed between 7500 and 6500 cal. yr BP. One question of particular interest is the structure of the woodlands in the mid-Holocene, particularly during the Holocene Climatic Optimum, when summer mean temperatures were higher than today. Pollen studies in this period suggest the dominance of wooded steppe with significant, naturally open, steppe-covered habitats. Hazel (Corylus avellana) and oak (Quercus sp.) were the most important pollen components. On the other hand, the anthracological records suggest considerably less hazel, more oak admixed with several other woody taxa, particularly heliophilous Cornus sp. and Rosaceae trees or shrubs that still remain either invisible or are poorly represented in the pollen diagrams. The two types of data thus complement each other, and serve to better characterise this key time interval when Neolithic agriculture spread across the Great Hungarian Plain. Special attention is given to the joint occurrence of cornelian cherry (Cornus sp. cf. C. mas) and European smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria), as these commonly occur in the Sub-Mediterranean-subcontinental wooded steppe and thermophilous oak forest associations in SE Europe these days, under warmer summer conditions than those experienced in Hungary today. Their appearance and, in the case of cornelian cherry, abundance in the Atlantic wood charcoal assemblages suggest that, during the Atlantic phase, the wooded steppes of the north Great Hungarian Plain could have been of a Sub-Mediterranean character.

Wildfires As a Driving Force In Our Ecosystem & In the Pannonian Plain Ecosystem........

Like here, there is a drive to preserve remaining small pieces of the prairies, barrens & savannas there.  

This abstract concerns on the most natural fire regime of these communities & how to reintroduce them.  This paper is from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences & University of Debrecen.  Authors are Deák Balázs, Péter Török, Orsi Valkó & Béla Tóthmérész.

Fire as a natural disturbance has been present in most European grasslands. Controlled burning was also an important component of the traditional landscape management for millennia. It was mainly used to reduce litter and woody vegetation and to maintain open landscapes suitable for farming. Due to socio-economical changes traditional and sustainable use of fire was ceased and replaced by arsons and technical fires in Europe. Despite its wide application in the past and the considerable extension and frequency of current grassland fires, the impact of fire on the grassland biodiversity is still scarcely documented in Europe. The aim of this study is to offer a perspective on the issue of fire impact on grasslands, by overviewing published information and practical experiences from Hungary. Our results suggest that fire can be detrimental for several taxa (e.g. insects or ground-dwelling birds), but can also promote population growth of several endangered species by reducing litter or by creating and maintaining open habitats. We also found that fire may be effective in controlling invasive plant species. The effect of fire on grassland biodiversity may be rather context-dependent. There is a critical need for developing robust evidences on the context-dependence of fire effect on biodiversity. For this, well designed prescribed burning experiments are crucial.

(PDF) Grassland fires in Hungary‒Experiences of nature conservationists on the effects of fire on biodiversity. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264945234_Grassland_fires_in_Hungary-Experiences_of_nature_conservationists_on_the_effects_of_fire_on_biodiversity [accessed Oct 30 2018].

Images of the Pannonian Plain............

Carroll County?  Nope.  It is a Spring farming scene from Hungary.  Picture by GaborLajos.

A highway in Tippecanoe County?  Nope.  It is in Timis County, Romania

Cornfields near Clark's Hill?  Nope.  Arad County, Romania.

A northern Warren County field?  Nope.  Bekes County, Hungary

This scene captured near Orom, Serbia.

Not the I-65 ramp in Clinton County, but Bekes County, Hungary.

Surany, Slovakia

The Pannonian Plain Oaks/Prairie Ecosystem..............Oak Barrens & Oak Savannas.........

Fire was important in these areas of the prehistoric past, which burned across the plain with its nomadic tribes.  Rivers created corridors of buffer zones.............barrens & savannas.

Much like our native White, Bur & Black oaks, you find remnants of barrens & savanna in parts of our area in these groves of huge, old growth trees.  Such is the same on the Pannonian Plain, adjacent to former prairies.

Hungarian Oak below (taken by Stefanst).

Note the branches in the top of the picture.  This is another native oak to those barrens & savanna that is nearly identical to our Chinkapin Oak.

by:  https://www.bomengids.nl/soorten/Hongaarse_eik__Quercus_frainetto__Hungarian_oak.html

Hungarian oaks in an old church yard in Hungary. Pic from hungarytoday.hu

Another Hungarian Oak surrounded by farmland.

Delchampii Oak by Marcobarci.

Strandzha Oak with pic from Franz Xaver.  This species is very similar to our native Swamp White Oak.

Downy Oak (pic by Franz Xaver):

Sessile Oak by Selbst Fotografiert:

Oaks & Prairie Images...............

Oak savanna & prairie, Hungary.  Image by http://footage.framepool.com/es/shot/824240208-puszta-tiere-der-ungarischen-tiefebene-pastizales-hungria

Protected Hungarian & Romanian prairie & barrens.  Pics by Bernard Van Elegem.

Prairie remnant pic taken by saját.

Pics from From Nyar94

Pic by Milan Barlog

Tulips Are Native to Prairies?

Did up know that tulips are native to prairies in the Ukraine & westward to parts of eastern Europe?

We have our own tulip or crocus type plants on Plains prairies that bloom in spring: Pasque Flower, Prairie Smoke..........here Golden Alexanders, Hoary Puccoon, etc. are spring bloomers.

The tulips of the Russian & Eastern European prairies bloom just as the warm season grasses & summer flowers are sprouting.

Chris Helzer & Peter M. Dziuk captured these pics of our "prairie tulips" native to the Great Plains & western tallgrass prairie.

These are not planted.  These are native tulips & iris on native, unplowed prairies in early spring in the Crimean region.  There many different species of irises tulips on the prairies of this region that blow before the grass fill in & shade them out for the summer.

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