Fire and bison (Bison bison) are thought to be historically responsible for shaping prairie vegetation in North America. Interactions between temporal-spatial distributions of bison and prescribed burning protocols are important in current restoration of tallgrass prairies. We examined dynamics of bison distribution in a patch-burned tallgrass prairie in the south-central United States relative to bison group size and composition, and burn age and temporal distribution. Bison formed larger mixed groups during summer and smaller sexually segregated groups the rest of the year, and bison selected dormant-season burn patches in the 1st posture growing season most often during spring and summer. Large bison herds selecting recently burned areas resulted in seasonally variable and concentrated grazing pressure that may substantially alter site-specific vegetation. These dynamics must be considered when reintroducing bison and fire into tallgrass prairie because variable outcomes of floral richness and structural complexity are likely depending on temporal-spatial distribution of bison. ?? 2006 American Society of Mammalogists.
Additional publication details
Temporal-spatial distribution of American bison (Bison bison) in a tallgrass prairie fire mosaic