Researcher Discusses Dune Restoration at Sleeping Bear Dunes

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Date: August 28, 2015

Dr. Kerri Crawford will present a program on sand dune restoration on September 10 at 9:30 a.m. at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center Auditorium in Empire, Michigan. Dr. Crawford will discuss the latest results from her long-term restoration experiment at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore), including how the productivity and diversity of sand dune communities respond to different restoration approaches.

Great Lakes sand dunes are an ecologically and economically important ecosystem.  They provide habitat for hundreds of plants and animals found only in the Great Lakes region and provide local communities with important ecological services, such as tourism opportunities and sand stabilization. Unfortunately, this ecosystem is highly susceptible to disturbance.  

Once disturbed, plants on the sand dunes are very slow to recover. Recent advances in ecology have shown that more diverse plant communities are more productive and resistant to disturbances. However, current dune restoration techniques generally consist of planting identical clones of one plant species - American beachgrass. Can planting more species and increasing diversity in American beachgrass plantings influence the outcome of restoration? Dr. Crawford is trying to answer this question.

Dr. Crawford is originally from Tennessee. She received a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2006 from the University of Tennessee.  Afterwards, she attended Rice University in Houston, Texas and earned her PhD.  While beating the Houston heat, she was introduced to the coastal dunes of the Great Lakes. She quickly became fascinated with their biology and has been studying them ever since. Dr. Crawford says “Contributing to science that helps protect and restore this amazing ecosystem makes me feel like the luckiest ecologist in the world.” Dr. Crawford is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Houston. 

Her talk is part of a Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore speaker series called “Research Rendezvous.” To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and highlight the value of national parks as our nation’s “living laboratories,” the National Lakeshore is hosting a series of public talks by park researchers through 2016. All Research Rendezvous presentations offered at the National Lakeshore are free. Upcoming “Research Rendezvous” presentations will include:

October 8, 2015:  “Between the Glaciers and the Europeans in Northwest Lower Michigan” by Dr.

William A. Lovis (Michigan State University),  plus a second talk entitled “Cycles of coastal dune formation during the late Holocene, Lake Michigan” by Dr. G. William Monaghan (Indiana Geological Survey, Indiana University).

November 12, 2015: “Avian Botulism and Our Waterbirds” by Taaja Tucker (U.S. Geological Survey, Great Lakes Science Center).

December 10, 2015: “An Assessment of Forest Health at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore” by Suzanne Sanders (National Park Service, Great Lakes Inventory and Monitoring Network). 

Check schedule of events for the current schedule of upcoming talks.  

Last updated: September 1, 2015

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