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Fire and Grazing

Understanding the ecological effects of fire and grazing in grasslands is an important aspect of research at the Konza Prairie (KNZ) LTER site. The tallgrass prairies of North America were shaped by natural disturbances that included periodic fires and the activities of ungulate grazers, and these remain important processes in tallgrass prairie and other grasslands around the world. In order to study the ecological role of fire and grazing, KNZ scientists pioneered the use of long-term, large-scale fire and grazing experiments.

Blair, J.M. 1997. Fire, N availability and plant response in grasslands: A test of the transient maxima hypothesis. Ecology 78:2539-2368.
Collins, S.L., A.K. Knapp, J.M. Briggs, J.M. Blair, and E.M. Steinauer. 1998. Modulation of diversity by grazing and mowing in native tallgrass prairie. Science 280:745-747.
Collins, S.L. and M.D. Smith. 2006. Scale-dependent interaction of fire and grazing on community heterogeneity in tallgrass prairie. Ecology 87:2058-2067.
Joern, A. 2005. Long-term disturbance from fire and bison grazing modulates grasshopper species assemblages (Orthoptera) in tallgrass prairie. Ecology 86:861-873.
Knapp, A.K., J.M. Blair, J.M. Briggs, S.L. Collins, D.C. Hartnett, L.C. Johnson, and E.G. Towne. 1999. The keystone role of bison in North American tallgrass prairie. BioScience 49:39-50.
Dr. John Blair
Bison herd grazing on a watershed burned every 4 years at Konza Prairie. Bison are allowed to graze across a 961-ha are that includes watersheds with different fire frequencies (annual, 2-, 4- and 20-year fire return intervals) to study the interactive effects of fire and grazing on ecological processes. 6/2007
Matt Whiles
The Konza Prairie LTER site features watershed-level fire and grazing treatments that are part of the KNZ core LTER program. Watersheds with native ungulate (bison) grazing (‘N’) are green, and cattle-grazed watersheds (‘C’) are red. Cattle-grazed treatments include both annual spring burning/season-long stocking and a 3-yr rotational burning patch-grazing treatment initiated in 2010. All other watersheds are ungrazed. Numbers designate fire return intervals for spring-burned watersheds. Watersheds subject to different seasons of fire (W=winter, F= fall, Sp= spring, SU=summer) are brown, and Fire Treatment Reversal (‘R’) watersheds are yellow. King’s Creek watershed (USGS Benchmark Stream) is blue. Many plot-level experiments are located at the headquarters areas (HQ) in the northwest portion of the site.



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