Natural Resources, School of

 

Date of this Version

7-2013

Citation

Natural Areas Journal, Volume 33 (3), 2013, pp. 327-338

Abstract

Fire and grazing can interact to affect the structure and composition of vegetation communities in a manner that may differ from the effects of fire or grazing that occurs in isolation of the other. In order to better understand the effects of a fire-grazing interaction at the level of an individual plant species, we studied the response of a perennial tallgrass prairie forb, Arnoglossum plantagineum Raf., to the interaction of spring and summer fires with grazing by bison (Bison bison L.). During one field season (2006), we collected data in areas that had been treated with summer fires while in a subsequent field season (2007) we collected data in areas that had been treated with spring fires. Many measures of plant growth (plant height, vegetative biomass, and total biomass) and reproductive effort (reproductive biomass, indices of flowering plant density) suggested greater resource availability for individuals of A. plantagineum growing in areas that had been recently burned and were being heavily grazed by bison. However, the response of these variables to the fire-grazing interaction often varied among differing topographical positions. Our results demonstrate that the interaction of fire and bison grazing can further interact with topographical position in tallgrass prairie to affect the growth and reproductive effort of the perennial forb A. plantagineum.