Soil, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Organic Matter Processing by Earthworms in Tallgrass Prairie

Author: James, S.W. Description: Earthworms represent the dominant fraction of soil macroinvertebrate biomass in Kansas tallgrass prairie and thus may have a large impact on nutrient budgets. To evaluate this impact, I estimated cast production and rates of nutrient processing by the native genus Diplocardia and by exotic Lumbricidae in permanent plots on two soil types at Konza Prairie Research Natural Area. Total cast production was estimated from field population estimates, soil climate data, and cast production-temperature relationships obtained in the laboratory. The organic matter and mineral N and P…

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Productivity of Two Prairie Grasses in Relation to Fire Frequency

Author: Hadley, E.B.; Kieckhefer, B.J. Description: The nature of the relationship between grassland vegetation and frequent natural fires has been discussed by Sauer (1950), Stewart (1951, 1956), and Curtis (1959). A number of studies have shown that frequent fires affect herbage production, litter accumulation, and flowering stalk production of the burned prairie sites (Curtis and Partch 1950, Weaver and Rowland 1952, Dix and Butler 1954, Aikman 1955, Robacker and Miller 1955, Ehrenreich 1957, Kucera and Ehrenreic1961, and Tester and Marshall 1961). Most investigations have not considered total energy production (biomass…

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Root Productivity and Turnover in Native Prairie

Author: Dahlman, R.C.; Kucera, C.L. Description: Quantitative measurements of root systems on a seasonal basis for a 34-inch profile in Central Missouri Prairie ranged from 1,449 g/m2 prior to resumption of growth in the spring to 1,901 g/m2 at the end of the growing season. Underground parts in the upper 2 in. of the profile varied from 48% of the total quantity in April to 60% in July. Over 80% of the root mass occurred in the A_1 horizon, or the top 10 in. of the profile. Annual increment in…

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Macroinvertebrates in North American tallgrass prairie soils: effects of fire, mowing, and fertilization on density and biomass

Author: Callaham, M. Description: The responses of tallgrass prairie plant communities and ecosystem processes to fire and grazing are well characterized. However, responses of invertebrate consumer groups, and particularly soil-dwelling organisms, to these disturbances are not well known. At Konza Prairie Biological Station, we sampled soil macroinvertebrates in 1994 and 1999 as part of a long-term experiment designed to examine the effects and interactions of annual fire, mowing, and fertilization (N and P) on prairie soil communities and processes. For nearly all taxa, in both years, responses were characterized by…

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Biodiversity of fungal endophyte communities inhabiting switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) growing in the native tallgrass prairie of northern Oklahoma

Author: Ghimire, S.R.; Charlton, N.D.; Bell, J.D.; Krishnamurthy, Y.L.; Craven, K.D. Description: This study was conducted to explore fungal endophyte communities inhabiting native switchgrass plants from the tallgrass prairie of northern Oklahoma. The primary focus was to isolate these endophytes in pure culture from surface-sterilized plant tissues and provide taxonomic identifications based on comparative analysis of ITS rDNA gene sequences. From these data, we evaluated the biodiversity of these potentially beneficial endosymbionts from this rapidly disappearing habitat of the Great Plains. While important from a strictly conservationist standpoint, this survey…

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Prairie Dogs, Whitefaces, and Blue Grama

Author: Carl B. Koford Description: Man changes his environment to suit his needs. If he wants protection from cold orenemies, he builds houses and dwells in towns. If he needs food, he destroys weeds and fosters crops. But this ability to alter surroundings to his own advantage is not unique with man; it is shared by many humble animals. Among these are the large rodents of the western grasslands, the ground squirrels and the prairie dogs. Subject headings: Prairie dog, Rodents, Grasses, Vegetation, Prairie soils, Plants, Forbs, Burrows, Forage Publication…

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Ecological responses of dominant grasses along two climatic gradients in the Great Plains of the United States

Author: Epstein, H. E.; Lauenroth, W. K.; Burke, I. C.; Coffin, D. P. Description: Few empirical data exist to examine the influence of regional scale environmental gradients on productivity patterns of plant species. In this paper we analyzed the productivity of several dominant grass species along two climatic gradients, mean annual precipitation (MAP) and mean annual temperature (MAT), in the Great Plains of the United States. We used climatic data from 296 weather stations, species production data from Natural Resource Conservation Service rangeland surveys and a geographic information system to…

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