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Restoration as science: case of the collared lizard
Date:8/22/2011

sion, the red cedar was actually a very rare tree," Templeton says. "When they're young, they're full of resin, so they're not fire resistant. In fact, they candle, they almost literally explode in a fire."

"Before fire suppression, the red cedars were basically confined to cliff and bluff faces where the fire couldn't reach. Now they're just all over the place."

But why were the glades still healthy when Templeton was young? "Typically in the harsh glade environment, the red cedars are slow growing," Templeton says. "So there is a 30- or 40-year lag before the consequences of fire suppression catch up to you.

"Then, suddenly, the red cedars are big enough to start shading out the glade and the whole glade community collapses.

"When I was a teenager, I was on the good side of that curve," he says. "The red cedars were coming in but the glades were basically in very good shape. But when I returned to Washington University as an associate professor, I was on the wrong side of the curve and the glades were in terrible shape."

A chance encounter One area Templeton visited when he was surveying Missouri for lizards was the Peck Ranch Conservation Area.

The Peck Ranch was a large tract of land bought by a Chicago businessman in the early part of the 20th century as an investment. He clearcut the second-growth forests on the ranch to fuel the blast furnaces at an iron foundry known as Midco that was right next to his property.

When Midco collapsed, in part because of the deadly 1918 flu, the businessman abandoned the land. It was purchased in 1945 by the Missouri Department of Conservation for wild turkey management.

Wild turkeys, once too numerous to count, had been driven nearly to extinction in Missouri, much to the consternation of hunters.

By the time Templeton came by looking for lizards in 1982, there were no lizards left at the Peck Ranch. "The ranch manager at the time was a man name
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Contact: Diana Lutz
dlutz@wustl.edu
314-935-5272
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert  

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