• C3/C4 Production Shift on Seasonal Burns: Northern Mixed Prairie

      Steuter, A. A. (Society for Range Management, 1987-01-01)
      This study investigates the potential of fire to manipulate the balance of C3 (cool-season) and C4 (warm-season) herbage in 2 northern Mixed Prairie communities. The xeric high prairie community and mesic low prairie community were chosen to represent regional moisture extremes. Treatments included dormant spring burn, mid-summer burn, dormant fall burn, and untreated. The high prairie community appears to be a C3-dominant type. All 3 burn treatments increased the C3 herbage fraction relative to untreated sites. Total production, however, was unaffected by treatment. The C3/ C4 ratio of high prairie communities appears to be the result of long-term adaptation rather than short-term adjustments to fire or weather effects. Spring burning shifted low prairie communities towards C4 herbage relative to other treatments. This was due to an increase in C4 herbage (and total) rather than to a decrease in C3 herbage. The C3/C4 ratio of low prairie communities did appear to respond to short-term adjustments in moisture, temperature, and light caused by the spring burn. The response of low prairie C3/C4 ratios to mid-summer and dormant fall burns appeared to be related to phenological and indirect weather effects rather than to changes in site microclimate caused by the fires.