Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Thomas Bragg


Bluestem prairie (Adriopogon Panicum Sorghastrum) (Kuchler 1964) once covered much of eastern Nebraska (Weaver 1954, Weaver and Albertson 1956, Costello 1969) but extensive cultivation since the mid-1800’s has eliminated most of these native Prairie stands. Four types of management have been widely used in managing remaining native bluestem Prairie ranges; these include burning, mowing for hay, raising, and prevention of burning, mowing, or grazing. Historically, burning of bluestem Prairie occurred frequently in both spring and fall and was initiated by lightning and native-American Indians (Catlin 1848, Komarek 1964, 1966, Anderson 1972); grazing by large herbivores was extensive but probably less intense than present cattle grazing. Recent studies on native bluestem prairie suggest that (1) burning decreases woody plant invasion, prevents litter accumulation, improves nutrient release, and increases soil temperature (Kucera and Koelling 1964, Kucera 1970, Richards 1972, Hulbert 1973, Bragg and Hulbert 1976), (2) Mowing appears to decrease soil nutrients and grass productivity, and increase annual weeds and soil compaction (Johnson 1970, Cawly 1972, Christiansen 1972, Smein 1973), and (3) cattle grazing, depending on intensity, increases soil compaction, changes vegetative species composition by selective grazing, decreases depth and quality of grass roots, and hinders anthesis and seed production (Weaver 1950, Voigt and Weaver 1951, Owensby et al. 1973). The combined results of these studies indicate that native bluestem prairies appeared to be best managed by judicious burning (Ehrenreich and Aikamn 1963, Owensby and Smith 1973, Heitlinger 1975, Hill and Plat 1975).


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Biology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1976 James N. Becic.