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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Preliminary Response of Sandhills Prairie to Fire and Bison Grazing
Year: 1994
Author(s): Pfeiffer, K. E., Steuter, A. A.
Source Title: Journal of Range Management
Source Type: Journal
pages: 395-397
Original Publication: http://  
Abstract: This research determined the preliminary response of sandhills prairie to spring and summer prescribed burns, and their interaction with Bison (Bison bison) grazing. Changes in species composition and standing crop were determined for paired (caged/uncaged) plots established in burned and unburned areas during the 1991 and 1992 growing seasons. End of season standing crop of both rhizomatous grasses and bunchgrasses was increased by spring burning on sands range sites. Summer burning did not affect rhizomatous grass standing crop, but dramatically reduced bunchgrass standing crop. One burned areas, bison grazing reduced bunchgrass standing crop by 56%, while reducing rhizomatous grass standing crop by only 18%. Forbs generally appeared unaffected by Bison grazing and were affected variously by burning. The current bunchgrass composition of Nebraska Sandhills prairie appears dependent on fire exclusion. With fire, a replacement of bunchgrass with rhizomatous grasses may increase available forage, but also increases the risk of wind erosion, particularly on choppy sands range sites.