Submitted to: Iowa Academy of Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/2/2001
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: We compiled a list of all plant species occurring in nature, in and near the city of Ames, Iowa from 1990 to 2000. During this project, we encountered 894 different plant taxa (species, subspecies, and varieties). Of these, 73% were native to central Iowa. A survey of dried plant specimens held in the Iowa State University herbarium and a review of scientific literature added 210 more plant taxa. This total of 1,104 plants recorded in Ames since the mid-1800s is greater than that known from any other comparable area in Iowa. In this paper, we present a master list of all these plants, along with information on origin, abundance, and habitat. We list 50 taxa not previously published in the Iowa state plant checklist and 28 species that are included in the Iowa Department of Natural Resources list of endangered, threatened or special concern species. We also present a historical outline of earlier studies of the Ames flora and describe notable natural plant communities in the area. The results of this survey can serve as a model for similar plant surveys and as a baseline to document changes in plant communities over time. These results, our interpretation, and historical context should be valuable to conservation biologists, field botanists, resource managers, and urban planners.
Technical Abstract: A vascular flora of the area of "planning and zoning jurisdiction" of the city of Ames, Iowa, circumscribed within a boundary two miles beyond the current city limits, was compiled from 1990 to 2000. During this survey, 894 taxa (73% native) were encountered within the boundary. Literature reviews and a survey of the Iowa State University Herbarium for specimens that had been collected in Ames add 210 taxa. This total of 1,104 taxa, recorded in Ames since 1859, exceeds the number of taxa known from any comparable area (including counties) in Iowa. We produced a checklist including date of first record, origin, abundance and habitat codes for all species noted during the current survey. Information for historic records includes source and, if based on herbarium voucher, dates of first and most recent collections. This study reports 50 taxa that are not included in Eilers and Roosa's 1994 checklist of the Iowa vascular flora; 28 species currently or historically known from Ames are included in the 1994 Iowa Department of Natural Resources list of endangered, threatened or special concern species. One federally threatened species, Lespedeza leptostachya, is also found within the study area. An outline of previous studies of the Ames flora is presented. Sites containing notable plant assemblages in the survey area are mapped and described. The applications of the results of the survey to current knowledge about the Iowa flora and to conservation efforts are also discussed. This inventory highlights the need for similar, intensive studies of the flora elsewhere in Iowa. The compilation of historical data for such studies could be greatly aided by the development of computerized catalogs of the state's herbaria.