Kelly Malzewski and Shanda Cebula

BI 341 Research report

November 11, 2009


Population coverage size of Bunias orientalis



            The purpose of this experiment was to test whether the Hill Mustard plant (Bunias orientalis) preferred a prairie environment over a wetland environment.  A 5x5 meter grid was laid out with transects at 1 meter intervals, creating a 25 squared grid at eight different places for each environment.  The densitometer was used to determine the percent coverage of the Hill Mustard plant within ten randomly chosen squares within the grid.  The averages for the prairie environment (A=68.75%) and the wetland environment (A=22.5%) were determined and a paired t test was done (p= 1.5x10^-4), which supported our hypothesis.

Key Words: Bunias orientalis, linear transects, prairie, wetland


Bunias orientalis also more commonly known as Hill Mustard plant is found in limited areas of Wisconsin.  The southeastern part of the state is one of the areas it can be commonly spotted, as well as surrounding states such as Michigan (Renz and Doll, 2008).   Bunias orientalis is originally from southeastern Europe and over time has widely spread across all of Europe.  The name describes its preferred area of growth.  Most Bunias orientalis can be found within 8.05 kilometers of its original sighting, however it can travel long distances.   It is a heavy invader and if not controlled its large rapid growth can take over areas (Steinlein et al.1996).  Bunias orientalis is commonly found in undisturbed open areas such as off the sides of highways (Renz and Doll, 2008).   Bunias orientalis do not need much water for survival making prairies an expected better living habitat.

From the evidence found we hypothesized that Bunias orientalis would have a larger percent population coverage in prairie environment over wetland environment.

  Prairies can range in size and include large amounts of grassland (Weaver, and Flory, 1934).  They also have a high level of disturbance in many areas which promotes the growth in plants.  It would be an ideal place for rapid spreading fast growing plants to exist.  Wetlands are a threatened part of the environment due to increasing industrial building and low usage (Turner, 1991).  They are also decreasing in many areas because there is not as much usable growth. 


            The data was collected on October 11, 2009 between the hours of noon and 4pm.  It was a cold and windy day, with sun shine throughout the afternoon.  A linear transect grid 5 meters by 5 meters was set up at eight different marsh environments and eight different prairie environments (figure 1).  Within the 5x5 meter grid transects were laid out at 1 meter intervals, making a 25 squared grid using kite string.  We randomly picked ten squares at each location and used the Geographic Resource Solution densitometer to decide if the Mustard Hill plant was within the square in the grid.  The percent coverage was then calculated.  When six of the ten squares contained the Hill Mustard plant (Bunias orientalis), there was 60% coverage within the grid.  This was done at each of the eight environments, with our starting points chosen at random.

Table 1. The eight different locations for each environment

Site Number                                        Prairie Locations                                 Wetland Locations


 204 degrees on 107th and Coldspring across from the Wimmer Wetlands Greenfield, WI

310 degrees along the Milwaukee River downtown, Milwaukee WI


 60 degrees on 100th and Coldspring in between  the 45N and 45S freeway Greenfield, WI

260 degrees behind 10205 W Coldspring Rd Greenfield, WI


318 degrees on the Root River Parkway off 92nd and Forest Home Hales Corners, WI

80 degrees on the Oak Leaf trail South of 105th and Coldspring Greenfield, WI


160 degrees north of 9701 W. College Ave in the Prairie in the Wher Nature Center Franklin, WI

330 degrees along the road of 103rd and Coldspring near the tennis courts of Piccadilly Apartment complex Greenfield, WI


268 degrees East of 2028 S 124th St across from Cool Waters in Greenfield Park

234 degrees into the Wimmer Wetlands on 107th and Coldspring Greenfield, WI


90 degrees at 579 S 116th St at Rainbow Park West Allis, WI

204 degrees along the river in Alan Kulwicke Park on hwy 100 and Coldspring Greenfield, WI


75 degrees South of 9620 W Coldspring Rd next to the We Energies transformer station Greenfield, WI

40 degrees along the root River Parkway North of 112th and Beloit in Greenfield, WI


250 degrees at the Alverno prairie 3800 S. 43rd St, Milwaukee WI

230 degrees at the Alverno marsh 3800 S 43rd St Milwaukee WI





             We found that the percent coverage at each of the eight prairie sites is higher than the percent coverage at each of the eight marsh sites (Figure 2). We also found the prairie to have a higher average percent cover (A=68.75%) than the wetland environment (A=22.5%). The paired t test done showed that the results were significant enough to support our hypothesis because the p value was below 0.05 (p=1.5x10^-4).

Figure 2. The average percent cover of Marsh and Prairie environments with standard deviation bars





                Hill Mustard plants seem to be more adaptable to environments with greater disturbance patterns and with areas of lower water content as in the prairie environments (Steinlein et al. 1996). We had based our hypothesis off the research done by Renz and Doll (2008), on the areas more preferred by the Hill Mustard plant (Bunias orientalis).  We had found that Hill Mustard plants are more likely to be found in a prairie environment and our results support our hypothesis (p= 1.5x10^-4).  We found that there was a greater average percent coverage in the eight different sites tested within the prairie environments, (A=68.75%), compared to the wetland or marsh environments (A=22.5%).   We knew from the work done by Turner (1991) that a wetland environment would not be able to sustain the types of preferred environments for the Mustard Hill plant.

            If we were to do this experiment again, a few things would have to change.  We would try to figure out a way to have our samples be more random, because we knew what we were looking for; it was hard to maintain randomness within our sample sites.  We would also find other environment types that can possibly grow the Hill Mustard plant to see if there was an environment they preferred even more than the prairie. 



Renz, M.J., Doll, J.D. (2008). Hill Mustard, an Invasive Mustard on the Move in Southwestern

Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin-Extension. Retrieved October 5, 2009 from

Turner, K. (1996).  Economics with Wetland Management.  Ambio, 2059-63. Retrieved

            November 10, 2009, from jstor database.

Steinleint, T, Dietzst, H, & Ullmann, I. (1996). Growth Patterns of the Alien Perennial Bunias

 orientalis l. (brassicaceae) Underlying its  Rising Dominance in Some Native Plant

Assemblages . Vegetatio, 125, 73-82. Retrieved November 10, 2009, from jstor


Weaver, J., & Flory, E. (1934). Stability of climax prairie and some environmental changes

 resulting from breaking. 1932349 Ecology, 15, 333-347. Retrieved November 10, 2009,

from jstor database.