Effects of seasonal fire, bison grazing and climatic variation on tallgrass prairie vegetation
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Bryan R. Coppedge; David M. Engle; C. S. Toepfer; James H. Shaw
Publication Year: 1998

Cataloging Information

  • Ambrosia
  • Andropogon gerardii
  • annual plant
  • Aster spp.
  • biomass
  • bison
  • Bison bison
  • Bison bison
  • Bouteloua spp.
  • Bromus
  • burning intervals
  • Carex
  • climatic variation
  • climatology
  • community ecology
  • competition
  • Desmodium
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • Eleocharis
  • Festuca
  • fire
  • fire management
  • forbs
  • GIS - geographic information system
  • GPS - global positioning system
  • grasses
  • grassland
  • grasslike plants
  • grazing
  • Great Plains
  • Helianthus
  • introduced species
  • Juncus spp.
  • landscape ecology
  • legumes
  • Lespedeza
  • litter
  • natural areas management
  • Oklahoma
  • Panicum virgatum
  • Paspalum
  • patch burn grazing
  • perennial plant
  • phenology
  • plant growth
  • plant species diversity
  • population density
  • post-fire recovery
  • precipitation
  • range management
  • sampling
  • Schizachyrium scoparium
  • season of fire
  • seasonal fires
  • soils
  • Sorghastrum nutans
  • Sporobolus spp.
  • statistical analysis
  • tallgrass prairie
  • topography
  • vegetation surveys
  • wildlife food habits
  • wildlife habitat management
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 17940
Tall Timbers Record Number: 11204
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


We used univariate and multivariate techniques to evaluate vegetation-environment relationships for plant functional groups on a tallgrass prairie site in northern Oklahoma, USA burned seasonally and grazed by bison (Bison bison L.). The objective of the study was to identify important environmental variables associated with variation in residual aboveground standing crop (phytomass) and abundance of plant functional groups. Phytomass was predictably linked to season, with highest levels found in the latter portion of the growing season when the warm-season tallgrasses that dominated the site were most actively growing. When the effects of seasonal phenology were removed, stepwise regression revealed that phytomass variation was best explained by year-to-year climatic variation, seasonal burn type, and bison grazing. Phytomass was negatively related to bison grazing under all conditions. A number of plant functional groups responded to individual environmental variables: relative abundance levels of tallgrasses, little bluestem, annual grasses, forbs and legumes all varied with burn season; little bluestem, annual grasses, and sedges varied by topoedaphic position, while forbs exhibited a positive relationship with bison grazing intensity. Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA) was used to directly relate composition patterns of functional groups to environmental variables. CCA bi-plot of the ordination revealed that annual grasses were most closely associated with summer fires; sedges were associated with fall burns and the 1995 sampling year; legumes associated with a gradient representing the length of time since fire; while tallgrasses and little bluestem ordinated nearest a gradient representing bison grazing. Forbs and perennial grasses did not clearly associate with any particular environmental gradient, suggesting they were either simultaneously affected by several parameters or that environmental attributes important to these groups were not measured. Total phytomass and sedges were strongly influenced by yearly climatic variation. Relative abundance of some plant functional groups was principally determined by a single factor, while others were equally influenced by a suite of environmental interactions.

Online Link(s):
Coppedge, Bryan R., Engle, David M.; Toepfer, C. S.; Shaw, James H. 1998. Effects of seasonal fire, bison grazing and climatic variation on tallgrass prairie vegetation. Plant Ecology 139(2):235-246.