Mixed-grass prairie rhizome biomass is influenced by cattle grazing intensity


Correspondence to: X. Dong, Central Grasslands Research Extension Center, North Dakota State University, 4824 48th AVE SE, Streeter, ND 58483, USA.

E-mail: xuejun.dong@ndsu.edu.


This study was conducted on a mixed-grass prairie in south-central North Dakota, USA, to test the effect of animal grazing on rhizome biomass. Below-ground plant biomass samples were collected from pastures with moderate and heavy grazing by beef cattle. Because the biomass data did not meet the normality assumptions, the computer resampling method involving a nested anova was used. A reduction in rhizomes was found under heavy grazing, as compared with moderate grazing. Although rhizomes only accounted for a small fraction of total below-ground plant biomass, our study suggested that the high rhizome density found in the moderately grazed pastures might be partly responsible for the greater potential of plant regrowth in the moderately grazed pastures than in the heavily grazed pastures on this mixed-grass prairie.