Researcher ORCID Identifier

Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Dr. Char Miller

Reader 2

Dr. Marc Los Huertos

Reader 3

Dr. Charlotte Chang

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© 2022 Anna M Burns


This thesis begins with the local history of the Liberty Prairie, the land where I conducted the ecological field-work that I later discuss in my second thesis on soil microbiome diversity (“Examining Soil Microbial Diversity in Transition Zones Between Corn Fields and Restored Prairie in the Upper Midwest"). I examine the Indigenous histories of the land, and the conflicts between the Bodwéwadmi and Euro-American settlers that resulted in the land being farmed for cattle, corn, and soy for over a hundred and fifty years. I then take a step back and analyze the broader historical contexts of Midwestern Corn Belt agriculture, from foundational policies to sustainability narratives. From there, I explore the landscapes that agriculture replaced, detailing the ecology of the once-ubiquitous prairie landscape. Finally, I discuss the history and politics of prairie restoration, which ties this thesis to my later scientific examinations of prairie microbial life.