Class Year




Document Type


Distinguished Thesis


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Department or Program


First Advisor

Lynn C. Westley

Second Advisor

Louise M. Egerton-Warburton, Chicago Botanic Garden

Third Advisor

Sean B. Menke

Fourth Advisor

Glenn Adelson


As urban development continues to replace and transform native grasslands, restoration has become increasingly critical for maintaining soil organic matter. This study explores whether carbon storage in urban soils can be restored to pre-agricultural levels. Macro- and microaggregate size classes were studied in soils from fifteen prairies under five types of management around the Chicago area. Soil aggregate carbon content increased significantly between early and model restorations, and aggregate carbon levels in model restorations approached those in pristine prairie remnants. Lower quality intermediate sites, however, showed little evidence of macroaggregate carbon accumulation. Stable isotope δ13C signatures and lignin phenol analyses were also performed. My findings suggest that: (1) carbon accrual occurs with urban grassland restoration, (2) markers of restoration success and perception of high quality restoration are reflected in carbon accrual, and (3) management type rather than simply duration of management are important in promoting carbon accrual.