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Structure and Productivity of Grassland Small Mammal Communities Related to Grazing-Induced Changes in Vegetative Cover

William E. Grant , Elmer C. Birney , Norman R. French , David M. Swift
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1380634 248-260 First published online: 21 May 1982

Abstract

Effect of grazing on the structure and productivity of small mammal communities in four types of North American grasslands is examined quantitatively using data collected during a 4-year period. Small mammal communities in tallgrass and montane grasslands appear more affected by grazing and the subsequent reduction in vegetative cover (=total above-ground standing crop of plants) than do small mammal communities in shortgrass and bunchgrass grasslands. This trend is evident when small mammals in grazed versus ungrazed habitats are compared with regard to mean community biomass, annual community respiration, production, and consumption, mean species diversity and evenness, proportional species and functional group composition, seasonal dynamics of community biomass, and temporal variation in proportional species composition. These results lend further support to the hypothesis that the general composition of grassland small mammal communities is determined primarily by structural attributes of the habitat.

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