Date of this Version
Winter, S. L., B. W. Allred, K. R. Hickman, and S. D. Fuhlendorf. 2015. Tallgrass prairie vegetation response to spring fires and bison grazing. Southwestern Naturalist 60(1):30-35.
Spring fires in tallgrass prairie can create environmental conditions conducive to plant growth in the subsequent growing season. Following fires, burned areas can also be attractive to grazing animals such as bison (Bison bison). Sustained grazing activity within recently burned areas can alter vegetation structure relative to nearby landscape patches that haven’t burned recently. In 2007, we collected data on bison grazing activity, vegetation structure, and the growth and reproduction of a perennial forb, Arnoglossum plantagineum, in Oklahoma tallgrass prairie. We compared these variables in landscape patches that had burned in the spring of 2007 to measurements of these variables in adjacent landscape patches that had burned in the spring of 2004 or 2005. Our results demonstrate that bison grazing activity and many vegetation structure variables can differ markedly in landscape patches that differ in their time since fire but are directly adjacent to each other.