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A Ten-Year Record of Aboveground Biomass in a Kansas Tallgrass Prairie: Effects of Fire and Topographic Position

Marc D. Abrams, Alan K. Knapp and Lloyd C. Hulbert
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 73, No. 10 (Oct., 1986), pp. 1509-1515
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2443856
Page Count: 7
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
A Ten-Year Record of Aboveground Biomass in a Kansas Tallgrass Prairie: Effects of Fire and Topographic Position
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Abstract

Measurements of mid-season live and dead aboveground biomass are reported for a 10-yr period (1975-84) in a northeast Kansas tallgrass prairie. Study sites included shallow, rocky upland and deep, non-rocky lowland soils in annually burned (April) and unburned watersheds. Lowland sites had significantly greater live biomass than upland sites for both burned and unburned prairie for the 10-yr period. Moreover, live biomass was greater on burned than unburned lowland sites, but was not significantly increased by fire on the upland sites. Averaged across upland and lowland sites, mid-season live biomass was 422 g m-2 on annually burned and 364 g m-2 on unburned sites for the 10-yr period. Each site had its lowest live biomass value during the severe drought year of 1980 (range = 185-299 g m-2). During the study period, live biomass was most strongly correlated with seasonal pan water evaporation (r = -0.45 to -0.82), whereas dead biomass was correlated with the previous yr's precipitation (r = 0.61 and 0.90 for upland and lowland sites, respectively). When aboveground biomass was sampled throughout the 1984 season and separated into several components, biomass of the graminoids was 40% lower, whereas that of forbs and woody plants was 200-300% greater in the unburned than in the annually burned site.

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