Yes, there are! Tarantulas, scorpions, and prickly pear cactus are native to glades in the Ozarks. Missouri glades, which ecologists sometimes call sunlit islands in a forested sea, are areas of exposed bedrock in the Ozark woodlands that create their own hot, dry, desert-like microclimates and have their own unique mixture of species.
Tiffany Knight, PhD, associate professor of biology in Arts & Sciences is leading the research. This is a giant experiment at the Tyson Research Center, Washington University in St. Louis’ 2,000-acre outdoor laboratory for ecosystem studies. The experiment will test three different variables in 32 glades with the goal of establishing best practices for restoring not just degraded glade habitats but degraded ecosystems in general. “We’re manipulating glade shape, we’re manipulating glade size, and we’re manipulating whether or not plant species are seeded or allowed to establish on their own,” Knight says. “Those are our three big treatments, and then we’ll judge the outcome by measuring the biodiversity and composition of plants.”
Knight plans to carry on the research for decades monitoring plant communities and in particular several rare species in the glade ecosystems. Additional experiments will test the importance of plant and animal interactions on biodiversity, such as the impact of mammal and insect predation. For more information see the University’s press release.