Patch Burn Graze Project
This project examines the ecological integrity of prairie streams as influenced by patch-burn grazing and riparian protection in the Osage Prairie located in Missouri. Prairies support a high diversity of species and are a source of fertile soil. Conversion of these grasslands to agricultural areas, fragmentation of land, and removal of native grazers has made the tallgrass prairie one of the most imperiled biomes, with less than <1% of the historic distribution remaining. Current management practices to preserve the few intact prairies remaining include burning, grazing, haying and patch-burn grazing. Although patch-burn grazing has been shown to benefit cattle and grassland birds, concern has arisen as to whether this practice has adverse effects on prairies and their streams. Potential adverse effects of cattle grazing include bank erosion, sedimentation, nutrient inputs and low dissolved oxygen. The effects of patch-burn grazing on tallgrass prairie streams will be evaluated using macroinvertebrate communities as biological indicators. Results from this study will aid state and federal agencies in assessing the most effective way to manage the few remaining tallgrass prairie parcels. This research is partnered with the Missouri Department of Conservation and Kansas State University.