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Effect of habitat fragmentation on plant species richness of the McPherson Preserve, Stillwater, Oklahoma

Moore, Wyatt

​Habitat fragmentation, driven by human development and land use conversion, is a significant threat to biodiversity. In Oklahoma, extensive road networks dissect the 12 Level III ecoregions found in the state, exemplifying the challenge. The Tallgrass Prairie Preserve (TGPP) in Osage County, crucial for preserving the threatened North American tallgrass prairie, is a large contiguous area that is home to 763 plant species. In contrast, the OSU McPherson Ecology Preserve in Payne County, much smaller and highly fragmented, represents <0.5% of TGPP's area. This study assesses whether McPherson Preserve's small size supports fewer plant species than predicted by its area, using the well-known Species-Area relationship. Of the 200 species predicted by the Species-Area relationship based on TGPP, 224 were observed, suggesting habitat fragmentation does not have an impact on biodiversity. Effective conservation strategies necessitate habitat restoration, invasive species control, pollution management, native plant promotion, public awareness, collaboration, and ongoing monitoring is crucial to maintain McPherson Preserve's unique biodiversity.