Dr. Joseph Springer
Department of Biology, 308.865.8920

The 20th Annual North American Prairie Conference (NAPC) will kick-off at the University of Nebraska at Kearney on Sunday, July 23.
The theme of the NAPC is “Invasive Species,” with attention paid to how these species affect the prairie ecosystem. Both plants and animals will be points of focus for presentations at the conference.

While the NAPC has traditionally featured presentations from the biology field, papers were accepted from other disciplines, including cultural anthropology, education, landscape architecture, geography, geology and theater.
After registration and a social on Sunday, the format for the four-day conference will predominately feature a series of 20-minute presentations. On both Monday and Wednesday, three coinciding sessions for presentations will take place. Mid-afternoon on both of those days, a 30-minute poster session is scheduled.  During poster sessions, the presenters stand by their posters to answer questions and discuss their research.
UNK faculty who will be presenting papers at NAPC include Dr. Wyatt Hoback, Dr. Julie Shaffer, Dr. Hal Nagel, Rick Simonson, Dr. Keith Koupal, Dr. Steven Rothenberger, Dr. Joseph Springer, Dr. Tamara Smith, Dr. David Smith and Dr. Bob Murphy.
On Tuesday, NAPC participants will take field trips to various locations across Nebraska to get a first-hand look at Nebraska prairies. Five different field trips have been planned, each with its own distinct destination.

An animal-oriented field trip will visit prairie dog towns and burrowing owl sites in Phelps County. Afterwards, this field trip will take participants to Dawson County to examine the effectiveness of goats in restoration work. The field trip will end at a bison ranch in Custer County.

The second field trip option focuses on Eastern Nebraska tallgrass prairies. Participants will travel to Hamilton County to the Ratzlaff Prairie before stopping in Aurora at the Prairie Plains Resource Institute. This field trip ends at the Griffith Prairie near Marquette.

The third selection for a field trip for NAPC participants features upland prairie restoration and management in the Eastern Sandhills. It will begin at the Prairie Plains Resource Institute and then move to the Griffith Prairie. Then the field trip is scheduled for a stop at the Olson Nature Preserve in Boone County.

The fourth option that NAPC participants have is the field trip that highlights upland loess hills prairies. This trip begins at the Upland Prairie Restoration in Buffalo County. Next is a stop at a Loup River meadow in Sherman County and a tour of the Relic Oak Forest near Dannebrog in Howard County.

The final field trip choice deals with prairie restoration and ecological grazing. It features a morning tour of diverse prairie restorations along the Platte River. The afternoon part of the field trip will focus on patch burn grazing, a cattle grazing system being used to maintain and increase plant and habitat diversity in restored and remnant grasslands.

A 6 p.m. banquet on Wednesday night wraps-up the NAPC.