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The effects of bison grazing on plant diversity in a tallgrass prairie (Konza Prairie LTER)

How does grazing by bison affect plant community diversity? This TIEE Data Set introduces students to biodiversity and the concepts of richness, evenness, and diversity indices. It contains three computer-based activities in which students use Excel to explore three concepts in detail (species richness, the importance of sample size, and diversity indices) using plant species composition data from the Konza Prairie LTER site. After mastering the analytical techniques presented, as well as understanding some of the biases of each technique, students use their knowledge to compare plant species diversity in two different tallgrass prairie plant communities: one that has been grazed by bison for >10 years and one that has been protected from bison grazing for >20 years. The Data set challenges students to consider the assumptions of the methods they have learned and how these assumptions may affect their conclusions.
Associated files
Resource Group TIEE
Resource Group Link
Primary or BEN resource type
Discipline Specific Core Concepts
Life science discipline (subject)
Keywords diversity; species richness; relative abundance; herbivory; sample size; species accumulation curve; tallgrass prairie; grazing; buffalo; bison; TIEE
Key taxa bison; Andropogon gerardii; big bluestem; Schizachyrium scoparium; little bluestem; Sorghastrum nutans; Indiangrass
Intended End User Role
Educational Language
Pedagogical Use Category
Pedagogical Use Description This Data Set helps students develop a conceptual understanding of diversity while using their quantitative reasoning skills and data presentation techniques. Students use Microsoft Excel spread sheets, calculate and interpret diversity indices, present data using figures and tables, analyze their results, and critical thinking. Instructors can use this Data Set to give students some experience working with real ecological data and to explore species diversity in more depth than lecture usually allows.
Aggregation Level
Full Name of Primary Author Harmony Dalgleish
Primary Author Controlled Name
Primary Author Affiliation Kansas State University, Division of Biology

Kansas State University, Dept. of Secondary Education
Primary Author email
Added By Id
  • educationintern
Rights Copyright 2007 by Harmony J. Dalgleish, Teresa M. Woods, and the Ecological Society of America.
Review type
Drought and Water Ecosystem Services Collection Off
Conservation Targets Under Global Change Collection Off
Big Data Collection Off
Editors Choice No
Resource Status
Date Of Record Submission 2007-10-23
I Agree to EcoEdDL's Copyright Policy & Terms of Use No
Date Of Record Release 2010-02-16 01:30:08
Last Modified By Id
  • educationintern
Date Last Modified 2018-07-25 11:13:05
Release Flag Published

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