Skip to main content


Successional dynamics of sand dune systems

Research Achievements

Successional dynamics of sand dune systems

Trainee Paul Gulezian completed a research project conducted during his LEAP internship with the Morton Arboretum, one of the LEAP partners. Gulezian studied the successional dynamics of sand dune systems at Illinois Beach State Park. With training provided by the Morton Arboretum staff, Paul used dendrochronological analysis (tree coring) to reconstruct the invasion process of Austrian pine (Pinus nigra) over 130 years. Results showed that episodic recruitment of pine alters plant communities and decreases graminoid and forb species. The pine is encroaching on habitat of restored populations of the endangered Pitcher’s thistle, Cirsium pitcherii. These findings were presented at a meeting of the Midwest Invasive Plant Network Meeting in December 2008, and have been submitted for publication in Natural Areas Journal (currently in review).