An experiment was conducted in arctic tundra to evaluate the role of reindeer grazing, trampling, and feces and urine deposition in nutrient turnover and primary production. Grazing was simulated by mowing, trampling by the impact of a wooden pole, and waste product deposition by the application of fertilizer. In the first year, aboveground primary production increased with simulated grazing in the fertilized plots and decreased with simulated grazing in the unfertilized plots; this indicates a higher regrowth capacity at higher nutrient levels. However, nitrogen mineralization and primary production were mainly determined by the input or removal of nutrients and, therefore, decreased in plots that were grazed but not fertilized and increased in plots that were fertilized but not grazed. Simulated trampling decreased the depth of the moss layer and increased soil temperatures, but the higher temperatures increased N mineralization only in unmowed plots, and the increased nitrogen availability was not translated into increased primary production. Since aboveground and belowground net primary production in plots with simulated grazing was the same as in plots without simulated animal activity, this study indicates that an entire trophic level can be supported with no apparent effect on primary production.
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Vol. 41 • No. 3