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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School


First Advisor

Gary E. Larson


Various spring burning treatments and their effects on plant community structure and seed production were studied on the Sioux and Aurora Prairies in eastern South Dakota during 1988 and 1989. Canopy coverage estimates were used to determine plant community structure; fertility and seed weights were used as measures of seed production. Homogeneous plant associations occurred within treatment areas where burning frequency was either very high or very low, though vegetational cover differed between two such burning regimes. Detrended correspondence analysis (DCA) showed that qualitative differences in vegetational cover were induced by burning versus nonburning. Drought in 1988 appeared to largely override differences in vegetational cover caused by burning treatments indicating that soil moisture was the dominant factor influencing vegetational cover. Seed production by big bluestem and Indiangrass was severely inhibited by drought on Sioux Prairie during 1988 and 1989. On Aurora Prairie, only big bluestem showed significant differences in fertility and seed weight between the burned and unburned areas in 1988. However, seed production by both grasses was very low due to drought. Significant differences between burning treatments were shown in the fertilities and seed weights of both big bluestem and Indiangrass in 1989 during near normal precipitation. Seed production was found to be much greater on the burned area over the unburned area indicating the promotional effects of spring burning.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Prescribed burning -- South Dakota
Grassland fires
Range management



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University