Oakridge Research and Education Prairie
Harpole, W. Stanley
Reconstructed tallgrass prairies (prairies that have been replanted) in Iowa and elsewhere in the Great Plains often lose many of the planted species over time, leading to lower diversity compared with prairie remnants. Establishment and maintenance of diversity in these reconstructions may be heavily influenced by herbivores. Herbivores such as white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), rabbits, and voles (Microtus spp.) may increase prairie diversity by eating competitively dominant plants, or decrease diversity by eating rare species. In addition to consuming adult plants, herbivores may further affect plant diversity by consuming seeds and seedlings and/or dispersing seeds to new locations.