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Bison Grazing Increases Biodiversity In Grasslands

nitrogen deposition from the atmosphere, and altered fire frequency have disrupted grassland ecosystems worldwide," adds Collins. "Although burning is essential to maintaining tallgrass prairies, fire alone is not a sufficient management solution for restoring prairie diversity, as some have proposed." Whereas fire is used as a conservation tool throughout much of the tallgrass region, the use of grazing by bison or cattle as a management tool for maintaining species diversity is less common. Yet herbivores such as bison historically served as keystone species in tallgrass ecosystems.

"This research indicates that by adding or maintaining grazing," states Collins, "at least in ecosystems like grasslands that were impacted historically by these herbivores, diversity in native vegetation can be retained under conditions that would otherwise lead to a decline in species richness."


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Contact: Cheryl Dybas
cdybas@nsf.gov
703-306-1070
National Science Foundation
30-Apr-1998


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