Grazing effects on aboveground primary production and root biomass of early-seral, mid-seral, and undisturbed semiarid grassland

Journal of Arid Environments
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Abstract

Annual/perennial and tall/short plant species differentially dominate early to late successional shortgrass steppe communities. Plant species can have different ratios of above-/below-ground biomass distributions and this can be modified by precipitation and grazing. We compared grazing effects on aboveground production and root biomass in early- and mid-seral fields and undisturbed shortgrass steppe. Production averaged across four years and grazed and ungrazed treatments were 246, 134, and 102 g m−2 yr−1 for the early-, mid-seral, and native sites, respectively, while root biomass averaged 358, 560, and 981 g m−2, respectively. Early- and mid-seral communities provided complimentary forage supplies but at the cost of root biomass. Grazing increased, decreased, or had no effect on aboveground production in early-, mid-seral, and native communities, and had no effect on roots in any. Grazing had some negative effects on early spring forage species, but not in the annual dominated early-seral community. Dominant species increased with grazing in native communities with a long evolutionary history of grazing by large herbivores, but had no effects on the same species in mid-seral communities. Effects of grazing in native communities in a region cannot necessarily be used to predict effects at other seral stages.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Grazing effects on aboveground primary production and root biomass of early-seral, mid-seral, and undisturbed semiarid grassland
Series title Journal of Arid Environments
DOI 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2013.01.012
Volume 92
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Publisher location Amsterdam, Netherlands
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 8 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Arid Environments
First page 81
Last page 88