Translator Disclaimer
3 July 2020 The Complementary Relationship of Bison Grazing and Arthropod Herbivory in Structuring a Tallgrass Prairie Community
Sofia Varriano, Luke H. Lefler, Krishna Patel, Carolina Kirksey, Adam Turner, Matthew D. Moran
Author Affiliations +
Abstract

Large mammal grazing is considered an important biological process that structures many grassland plant communities. While herbivorous arthropods are also important consumers in terrestrial systems, their interaction with large mammal grazing is poorly studied. We performed a field experiment in a tallgrass prairie manipulating arthropod abundance in both bison-grazed and ungrazed areas following a prescribed burn and monitored the plant community for 15 mo. Total plant biomass was unchanged by the end of the experiment, but individual biomass of forbs and grasses was altered by our manipulations. Forb biomass in the bison-grazed/arthropod-reduced plots was two to three times higher than other treatments, while grass biomass was higher in bison-grazed plots where arthropods were unmanipulated. Grass and forb richness showed smaller responses, with a significant difference only in ungrazed areas. Our results suggest that bison grazing and arthropod herbivory work in a complementary way; bison reduce grass biomass, allowing forbs to increase, while herbivorous arthropods reduce forb biomass, allowing grasses to increase. Our study showed that removing herbivorous arthropods may have lengthened the transition from forb to grass dominance, therefore delaying the return of conditions conducive to future disturbance by fire. Therefore, we argue that arthropod herbivory, interacting with large mammal grazing, is an additional important process affecting the plant community composition and disturbance patterns in tallgrass prairies and should be investigated further in additional grassland systems.

© 2020 The Society for Range Management. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Sofia Varriano, Luke H. Lefler, Krishna Patel, Carolina Kirksey, Adam Turner, and Matthew D. Moran "The Complementary Relationship of Bison Grazing and Arthropod Herbivory in Structuring a Tallgrass Prairie Community," Rangeland Ecology and Management 73(4), 491-500, (3 July 2020). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rama.2020.02.008
Received: 15 March 2019; Accepted: 28 February 2020; Published: 3 July 2020
JOURNAL ARTICLE
10 PAGES


SHARE
ARTICLE IMPACT
RIGHTS & PERMISSIONS
Get copyright permission
Back to Top