Responses of soil respiration to clipping and grazing in a tallgrass prairie

TitleResponses of soil respiration to clipping and grazing in a tallgrass prairie
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1998
AuthorsBremer, D, Ham, JM, Owensby, CE, Knapp, AK
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Pagination1539 -1548
Accession NumberKNZ00621
Keywordstallgrass prairie

Soil-surface CO2 flux (Fs) is an important component in prairie C budgets. Although grazing is common in grasslands, its effects on Fs have not been well documented. Three clipping treatments: (i) early-season clipping (EC); (ii) full-season clipping (FC); and (iii) no clipping (NC); which represented two grazing strategies and a control, were applied to plots in a tallgrass prairie in northeastern Kansas, USA. Measurements of Fs were made with a portable gas-exchange system at weekly to monthly intervals for 1 yr. Concurrent measurements of soil temperature and volumetric soil water content at 0.1 m were obtained with dual-probe heat-capacity sensors. Measurements of Fs also were obtained in grazed pastures. Fs ranged annually from 8.8 × 10−3 mg m−2 S−1 during the winter to 0.51 mg m−2 s−1 during the summer, following the patterns of soil temperature and canopy growth and phenology. Clipping typically reduced Fs 21 to 49% by the second day after clipping despite higher soil temperatures in clipped plots. Cumulative annual Fs were 4.94, 4.04, and 4.11 kg m−2 yr−1 in NC, EC, and FC treatments, respectively; thus, dipping reduced annual Fs by 17.5%. Differences in Fs between EC and FC were minimal, suggesting that different grazing strategies had little additional impact on annual Fs. Daily Fs in grazed pastures was 20 to 37% less than Fs in ungrazed pastures. Results suggest that grazing moderates Fs during the growing season by reducing canopy photosynthesis and slowing translocation of carbon to the rhizosphere.