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1 September 2017 Grazing and the Coupling of Biodiversity in Vascular Plant and Soil Microbial Communities
Caroline B. Girard-Cartier, Gary S. Kleppel
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This study sought to ascertain how different grazing management protocols affect the coupling between soil microbial and vascular plant communities. Changes in microbial and plant communities were observed over a grazing season (Spring 2013–Spring 2014) at 2 previously ungrazed agricultural sites—a moist lowland (Longfield Farm) and a drier upland (Normanskill Farm)—near Albany, NY. Each landscape was divided into 6 fenced enclosures (paddocks). One paddock at each farm was managed by a managementintensive grazing (MIG) protocol, which employs high stock density and frequent rotations. A second paddock was managed by continuous grazing (CG) at lower (conventional) stock density. A third paddock at each site was left ungrazed (U). Three “simulation” paddocks were used to explore the underlying dynamics of grazer-microbe-plant interactions. By spring 2014, plant species richness (S) was significantly higher (t-tests: P < 0.05) in the MIG paddocks at both farms. At Normanskill Farm, S was correlated with both microbial diversity and biomass, while at Longfield Farm, S was independent of microbial diversity and biomass but varied directly with soil moisture. Our findings suggest that while MIG leads to increased S relative to CG, different forcing factors may be responsible for the enhancements in upland and lowland systems.

Caroline B. Girard-Cartier and Gary S. Kleppel "Grazing and the Coupling of Biodiversity in Vascular Plant and Soil Microbial Communities," Northeastern Naturalist 24(sp8), 67-85, (1 September 2017).
Published: 1 September 2017

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