Modulation of Diversity by Grazing and Mowing in Native Tallgrass Prairie

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Science  01 May 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5364, pp. 745-747
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5364.745

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Species diversity has declined in ecosystems worldwide as a result of habitat fragmentation, eutrophication, and land-use change. If such decline is to be halted ecological mechanisms that restore or maintain biodiversity are needed. Two long-term field experiments were performed in native grassland to assess the effects of fire, nitrogen addition, and grazing or mowing on plant species diversity. In one experiment, richness declined on burned and fertilized treatments, whereas mowing maintained diversity under these conditions. In the second experiment, loss of species diversity due to frequent burning was reversed by bison, a keystone herbivore in North American grasslands. Thus, mowing or the reestablishment of grazing in anthropogenically stressed grasslands enhanced biodiversity.

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