Contact: Dan Carter at dlcarterksu@gmail.com

Opinions expressed here are my own. I am a Wisconsin-based restoration ecologist and field botanist. I presently work for The Prairie Enthusiasts, a non-profit that uniquely appreciates the stewardship needs of Midwestern fire-dependent ecosystems.  

I have developed two talks available in person or virtually. I give these talks on behalf of my employer, The Prairie Enthusiasts:

Lessons Insights the Prairie Past for the Prairie Present (45-50 minutes): 

What was and what is the composition of old growth, true prairie? This talk reviews some of the earlier work on prairie composition and early changes in response to European land use described by Curtis, Hayden, Weaver, and others. Before degradation caused by grazing, late spring burning, and fire exclusion, upland prairies were forb rich and bunchgrasses were prominent. Porcupine grass, little bluestem, Leiberg’s panic grass, prairie dropseed, and June grass were among the most prominent grasses of mesic and drier prairies. This remains true of the best-managed prairie remnants and has important implications for interpretation of prairie research and how we manage prairie–when we burn (dormant season!) and how often we burn (as often as possible). Research conducted on grasslands strongly dominated by the tall, long-rhizomatous warm-season grasses like big bluestem and Indiangrass is of limited relevance. The less intensively used, but often small old growth remnants least exploited by Europeans remain most representative of true prairie composition and ecological process. 

Introduction to Oak Savanna and Oak Woodland Restoration (45-50 minutes):

Oak savanna and woodland are grassland systems, which is material to informed restoration and management. This presentation explains their grassland nature, details elements of their composition, discusses the basics of how to identify restoration opportunities (easiest to most difficult), and provides some ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ when it comes to restoration methods. Fantastic success is possible. 

I do a limited amount of soloist work within roughly a 200 mile radius of Dousman, WI. I charge a flat hourly rate for field work, travel, and any desktop preparation and reporting. Present rate ranges are below. Exact rates depend on level of complexity and terrain. Areas of particular specialty include oak ecosystems (forests, woodlands, openings/savannas), prairies, sedge meadows, and fens. My solo time is booked for 2022, but I have some time available in 2023.

$80-$100/hour – Single species botanical surveys (usually rare or ecologically invasive species).

$100-$140/hour – Botanical surveys focused on two to several species concurrently.

$140-$160/hour – Plant community assessments including botanical inventories, floristic quality assessments, and coarse metrics assessments. 

As part of my day job I provide two to five-hour walk and talk visits to properties to identify and discuss conservation opportunities, priorities, appropriate goals, and appropriate methods; or to provide a second opinion or qualitative assessment of ongoing or planned restoration work. As of now, new appointments are available only to members of The Prairie Enthusiasts and provided at no cost. The dollar value is three to four figures.


Spiranthes ovalis var. erostellata is among several species I was the first to record in SE Wisconsin.


  • PhD in Biology from Kansas State University (5/2013)
  • Education Concentration (2004),Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA
  • Bachelor’s in Biology with honors (2004), Grinnell College, Grinnell Iowa


Carter, D.L. and M. Pace (2015 though dated 2013) Noteworthy collection: Spiranthes ovalis Lindley var. erostellata Catling. The Michigan Botanist.

Carter, D.L. and B.L. VanderWeide. 2014. Belowground bud production is linked to population establishment in Sorghastrum nutans (Poaceae). Plant Ecology 215:977-986.

VanderWeide, B.L., Hartnett D.C., and D.L. Carter. 2014. Belowground bud banks of tallgrass prairie are insensitive to multi-year, growing-season drought. Ecosphere 5:art103.

Carter, D.L., and J.M. Blair. 2013. Seed Source has variable effects on species, communities, and ecosystem properties in grassland restorations. Ecosphere 4: art93.

Madsen, M.D., K.W. Davies, C.S. Boyd, J.D. Kerby, D.L. Carter and T.J. Svejcar. Restoring North America’s sagebrush steppe ecosystem using seed enhancement technologies. Proceedings of the 22nd International Grassland Congress 393-401.

Carter, D.L., and J.M. Blair. 2012. Seed source affects establishment and survival for three grassland species sown into reciprocal common gardens. Ecosphere 3:art102.

Carter, D.L., B.L. VanderWeide, and J.M. Blair. 2012. Drought-mediated stem dynamics in restored grasslands: The role of bud banks in recovery. Applied Vegetation Science 15:470-478.

Carter, D.L. and J.M. Blair. 2012. High richness and dense seeding enhance grassland restoration establishment, but have little effect on drought response. Ecological Applications 22: 1308-1319.

Carter, D.L. and J.M. Blair. 2012. Recovery of native plant community characteristics on a chronosequence of restored prairies seeded into pastures in West-Central Iowa. Restoration Ecology 20:170-179.


2 Responses to About

  1. Just found your blog via a comment that you left on an article about prairie plants and the drought. Looking forward to reading it, as we have 15 acres of Tallgrass Prairie on our 40 acre property (not too far from you, actually, as we are north of Lawrence). Are you a member of the Kansas Native Plant Society? They did a prairie walk here back in June, I think it was…. Anyhow, plenty of pics here of our fabulous wildflowers (including Mead’s Milkweed): http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Little-Flower-Farm/114442135240679 if you’re interested.

    • prairiebotanist says:

      Very nice photos on your FB page. You are lucky…I just have my back yard for now. I am not actually a member of the Kansas Native Plant Society. I probably should be, but it is difficult enough for me to keep up with the memberships I already have.

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