Great Plains Natural Science Society


The Prairie Naturalist

Date of this Version


Document Type



THE PRAIRIE NATURALIST, Volume 37, No. 2, June 2005, pp 73-83


Published by the Great Plains Natural Science Society. Used by permission.


We evaluated the effects of long-term (1988 to 2000) grazing on northern mixed-grass prairie at tI.e Central Grasslands Research Extension Center in south-central North Dakota. We did not detect a difference in herbaceous basal cover between grazing intensities following 12 consecutive years of season-long moderate (50% removal of annual above-ground standing crop) and heavy (80% removal of annual above-ground standing crop) grazing. However, both moderate and heavy grazing intensities reduced above-ground herbaceous standing crop, total root biomass, and soil organic carbon. Moderate grazing intensity maintained a greater amount of deep (10 to 20 cm) and total root biomass relative to heavy grazing intensity. Several of our findings were in contrast to earlier studies on the same grazing intensity trials, highlighting the importance of considering both short- and long-term effects of grazing intensity on mixed-grass prairie.