Abstract Detail


Bookout, Bess [1], Ratajczak, Zak [2].

Cattle and bison cause increase in plant biodiversity that are resilient to extreme drought.

The simultaneous destruction of North American prairies and removal of their megagrazers (especially bison) has led to a lack of knowledge of the ecological impacts of bison on prairie plant communities. What little prairie remains is either ungrazed or native grazers have been replaced by cattle, further obscuring the role of native megagrazers. This study takes advantage of a long-term plant experiment that assesses the impacts of bison reintroduction on tallgrass prairie plant communities and phylogenetic diversity (PD). Our results show that over 29 years, plant community composition has shifted significantly over time, with strong divergence between ungrazed, bison grazed, and cattle grazed areas. In contrast, most treatments are converging towards similar values of PD except for annually burned, ungrazed prairie which shows a steady decline. This annually burned, ungrazed treatment also seems to respond negatively to an extreme drought in 2012, declining even more quickly after the drought. All other treatments seem resilient to this drought with neither plant communities nor phylogenetic diversity showing directional changes.

1 - Kansas State University, Biology, 116 Ackert Hall, Manhattan, Kansas, 66506, United States
2 - Kansas State University, 116 Ackert Hall, Manhattan, Kansas, 66506, United States

tallgrass prairie
Bison bison
plant ecology
phylogenetic diversity
grazed prairie
Konza Prairie.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number: EC12001
Abstract ID:377
Candidate for Awards:Ecological Section Best Graduate Student Paper

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