Abandoned quarries, from which all soil and plant life have been removed, represent an opportunity to study primary succession at a small scale. Using a framework suggested by Gilardelli et al. (2016), we assessed the stage of primary succession in an abandoned limestone quarry in Greencastle, Indiana, where gravel extraction ceased in 1977. From 2018-2021 we surveyed the quarry floor to describe the species composition and distribution of flowering plant species that have established at the site, then described each species in terms of its plant form, life history, native and wetland status, and invasive rank using the USDA website. In 2021, we made a grid across the quarry bottom and randomly selected 50 two-meter plots of which we characterized the substrate and identified flowering plant species found within each plot. We identified 106 species in the quarry, 72% are native to Indiana. From the quarry survey, we found that most of the species currently growing in the Nature Park quarry are native, herbaceous perennials. From the sample plots, we found that the quarry bottom does not follow the pattern of late-phase succession as laid out by Gilardelli et al. (2016) with only 28% of species identified being woody perennials that are sparsely distributed. Shrubland communities are not replacing herbaceous pioneer species as quickly as expected.
Atkinson, Sophia P.; Borse, Diana; Chandler, Cedrick; Saltz, Daniel L.; and Dudle, Dana A. PhD, "Life on the rocks: Small-scale primary succession in an abandoned limestone quarry" (2021). Annual Student Research Poster Session. 59.