Rachel Goad

Manager, Plants of Concern
E-mail: 
Phone: 
(847) 835-6927
Selected Professional Associations: 

Secretary, Illinois Native Plant Society (State)
Secretary, Illinois Native Plant Society (Northeast Chapter)
Member, Natural Areas Association
Member, Society for Ecological Restoration
Member, Ecological Society of America

Statement: 

As the manager of the Plants of Concern program (POC), I am concerned with the conservation of rare flora of the Chicago Wilderness region. POC is a collaborative project to collect regionwide data on rare plant populations. Since its inception in 2000, POC has worked with over 700 volunteers and partnered with seven northeast Illinois Forest Preserve Districts, The Nature Conservancy, the Chicago Park District, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Forest Service, as well as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Funding has been generously provided by many of these collaborators, as well as by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Garden Club of America, the Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network (Wisconsin), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the state C2000 program, and Corporation for Open Lands (CorLands).

Rare plant population data is collected by trained citizen-scientists, staff from partner agencies, and by POC staff. POC data is shared with landowners and managers who use it in planning management activities and with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, where it contributes to an understanding of northeast Illinois’ rarest plant species. I train volunteer citizen-scientists, and coordinate with these volunteers and staff from partner agencies to monitor more than 1,000 populations of more than 230 species in northeast Illinois, southeast Wisconsin, and northwest Indiana. I also help manage our data and database, work with spatial data, and prepare our vast data set for analysis. 

Ravine ecosystems of Chicago’s North Shore have been a recent focus for POC. These ravines formed when water courses cut through glacial moraines near Lake Michigan. Due to the microclimate created by this topography and proximity to the lake, these systems harbor rare plant species that are more commonly found further north. We have worked with Openlands, the Alliance for the Great Lakes, the Waukegan Harbor Citizens Advisory Group, and many others to collect data on the rare and invasive plants found within these systems. This data supports management at these sites and contributes to a greater understanding of these regionally significant systems. 

Broadly, I am interested in conservation and restoration of native plant communities. I serve on the board of the Illinois Native Plant Society and volunteer with local habitat restoration projects. My master’s degree thesis focused on ecotypic variation in dominant prairie species, examining how big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) and Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) collected from different regions contributed to above-ground productivity in prairie restorations across a rainfall gradient, and also studied how these species might be locally adapted to their soil microbial communities. 

Selected Publications: 

Goad, R. 2013. Plants of Concern Bloom Times Respond to Weather Patterns. The Habitat Herald. 14(3): 6.

Goad, R., K. Geiger, D. Fink, and S. Masi.  2013.  Ravine and Bluff Vegetation of the Chicago Region. Part of the Lake Michigan Watershed Ecosystem Partnership Ravine Toolkit. Rapid Color Guide Template from The Field Museum. http://www.greatlakes.org/ravinerestoration/toolkit

Goad, R. 2012. Rare Plants and Their Monitors Cover the Lake Michigan Ravines. The Habitat Herald. 13 (3):6

Posters and Presentations:
Goad, R. and S. Masi. 2013. Plants of Concern, a citizen science monitoring program in Chicago Wilderness since 2001. Poster presented at: Wild Things, a stewardship conference. Chicago, IL.  February 2.

Goad, R. 2012. Plants of Concern: A Volunteer-Based Regional Rare Plant Monitoring Program. Presentation to Wild Ones, Naperville, IL.  November 15.

Goad, R., and Masi, S. 2012. Plants of Concern, a Citizen Science Monitoring program in Chicago Wilderness since 2001. Poster presentation at: Conference on Public Participation in Scientific Research, Portland, OR. August 4-5. Also presented at: 2012 Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Science Conference, Indiana University Northwest, Gary, IN. November 28.

Goad, R., S. Baer, L. Johnson, B. Maricle, H. Tetreault, & J. Olsen. 2011. Patterns in aboveground net primary productivity of an assembling tallgrass prairie. Ecological Society of America. Austin, TX.

Goad, R., R.C. Anderson, & M. Anderson. 2004. Seed dispersal and seedling survival in a tropical rainforest emergent tree. Phi Sigma Research Symposium, Illinois State University, Normal, IL.

Tetreault, H., C. Rodewald, S. Baer, B. Maricle, T. Morgan, R. Goad, J. Olsen, & L. Johnson. 2011. Local drought adaptation of the ecologically dominant prairie grass big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii): contribution of genotype and environment to phenotypic variation. Ecological Society of America. Austin, TX.

Wright, C., R. Goad, E. Yates, J. Fant, S. Still, and S. Masi. 2013. GIS-based Spatial Analysis of Rare Plant Populations: Modeling Habitat Suitability for Gravel Hill Prairie Species. Poster at: Natural Areas Association Conference, Chicago, IL, Oct. 1-4.