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1 January 2008 Invertebrate Community Response to a Shifting Mosaic of Habitat
David M. Engle, Samuel D. Fuhlendorf, Aaron Roper, David M. Leslie
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Grazing management has focused largely on promoting vegetation homogeneity through uniform distribution of grazing to minimize area in a pasture that is either heavily disturbed or undisturbed. An alternative management model that couples grazing and fire (i.e., patch burning) to promote heterogeneity argues that grazing and fire interact through a series of positive and negative feedbacks to cause a shifting mosaic of vegetation composition and structure across the landscape. We compared patch burning with traditional homogeneity-based management in tallgrass prairie to determine the influence of the two treatments on the aboveground invertebrate community. Patch burning resulted in a temporal flush of invertebrate biomass in patches transitional between unburned and patches burned in the current year. Total invertebrate mass was about 50% greater in these transitional patches within patch-burned pastures as compared to pastures under traditional, homogeneity-based management. Moreover, the mosaic of patches in patch-burned pastures contained a wider range of invertebrate biomass and greater abundance of some invertebrate orders than did the traditionally managed pastures. Patch burning provides habitat that meets requirements for a broad range of invertebrate species, suggesting the potential for patch burning to benefit other native animal assemblages in the food chain.

David M. Engle, Samuel D. Fuhlendorf, Aaron Roper, and David M. Leslie "Invertebrate Community Response to a Shifting Mosaic of Habitat," Rangeland Ecology and Management 61(1), 55-62, (1 January 2008).
Received: 8 November 2006; Accepted: 1 October 2007; Published: 1 January 2008

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