Tallgrass Prairie Grazing Project


Grassland research in East Africa suggests that the coexistence of grazers of varying body size relates to forage quality preferences unique to each species.  In turn, these grazing preferences have large effects on plant diversity, nutrient cycling, and primary productivity.  We, however, lack an understanding of whether similar processes were important in structuring tallgrass prairie systems.

The long-term goal of the Tallgrass Prairie Multi-species Grazing Project is to engage the local agricultural sector in addressing the following kinds of questions.  Can our current agricultural grazers serve as useful surrogates to test the role of multi-species grazing in prairies? Can a prairie economy be blended with the current agricultural economy by “restoring” a suite of grazers such as horses, sheep, cattle/bison, deer, and even chickens to systems dominated by native grasses?  Can the integration of livestock grazing and prairie restoration facilitate the restoration of more acreage of native grasses?

As a first step in a larger Tallgrass Grazing Project, we have begun a grazing “exclusion” experiment at Merry Lea to test the effect of white tail deer browsing on prairie forbs.  In the summer of 2008, we erected two 20 m X 20 m exclosures that prevent deer browsing in order to quantify which plant species deer preferentially select.  In the spring of 2009 we will burn the prairie and collect a set of plant data.  This is a pilot project to set the stage for the development of a large-scale multi-species grazing experiment.

Latest Photos

  1. 1.Duis Nonsequ Ismodol

  2. 2.Eliquatuero Numsan

  3. 3.Attenim Facilla

  4. 4.Nulput et Dolorer

Student researchers:


Darin Schwartzentruber


Adie Gerig

Jeremy Good


Luke Zehr

Chase Snyder

Adie Gerig

Jeremy Good


Jon Mark

Luke Zehr