North American Prairie Conference


Date of this Version



Published in Prairie Pioneers: Ecology, History and Culture: Proceedings of the Eleventh North American Prairie Conference, August 7-11, 1988, Lincoln, Nebraska (Lincoln, NE 1989).


The importance of disturbance in prairie has long been recognized. Increasingly interest and research have focused on the action and interaction of multiple disturbances. The distribution of Flodman's thistle [Cirsium flodmanii (Rydb.) Arthur] on ant mounds, badger mounds, buffalo wallows, and potholes and in a lightly and a moderately grazed pasture was compared at the Nature Conservancy's S. H. Ordway Jr. Memorial Prairie in northcentral South Dakota. In the lightly grazed pasture, Flodman's thistle occurred most frequently on hilltops and ridges, but in the moderately grazed pasture it occurred with equal frequency on hilltops and ridges, and low areas surrounding potholes. Flodman's thistle was common on earthen mammal mounds and was less abundant on thatching ant mounds and buffalo wallows. No thistles were sampled in potholes. Relative availability of light may explain the thistle's distribution. Implications of observed patterns are discussed for the evolution of life history traits and the management of prairie remnants.