Landscape Ecology

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 243–251 | Cite as

Disturbances in tallgrass prairie: local and regional effects on community heterogeneity

  • Susan M. Glenn
  • Scott L. Collins
  • David J. Gibson


Community heterogeneity in tallgrass prairie was analyzed at regional and local levels to assess the effects of disturbances on community structure at different spatial scales. The sites were part of NASA's First ISLSCP Field Experiment (FIFE) in Kansas, and were located on grassland treatments that were undisturbed, and burned-only on Konze Prairie Research Natural Area, and grazed-only and grazed + burned on adjacent ranch land. Sites in grazed-only or grazed + burned treatments were less similar to each other, on a regional scale (15 × 15 km), than were burned-only or undisturbed sites. Grazing reduced the cover of dominant species, making space available for the establishment of immigrants from the region. Each site was different because of establishment by different species from the large regional species pool. At the local scale (0.1 ha), the most homogeneous treatments were those that were most heterogeneous at the regional scale. Undisturbed treatments at the local scale were the most heterogeneous compared to sites under other treatments. Therefore, regional responses to disturbances were more variable than local responses, and were not predictable from within-site analyses.


Hierarchy scale disturbance heterogeneity tallgrass prairie plant communities 


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Copyright information

© SPB Academic Publishing bv 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan M. Glenn
    • 1
  • Scott L. Collins
    • 2
  • David J. Gibson
    • 3
  1. 1.Oklahoma Biological Survey, University of OklahomaNormanUSA
  2. 2.Department of Botany and MicrobiologyUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUniversity of West FloridaPensacolaUSA

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