Plains prickly pear, weather, and grazing in the northern Great Plains

Houston, W.R.

Ecology 44(3): 569-574


ISSN/ISBN: 0012-9658
Accession: 025248222

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Opuntia polyacantha Haw. is a common component of native vegetation throughout the Great Plains. In a low rainfall area of the northern plains (annual average 12.8 inches) from 1937 to 1961 weather fluctuations were the strongest influence on abundance and vigor of plant clumps and cladodes. Much of the weather influence is delayed one year. Soil texture (as an index to soil moisture properties) also strongly affected plant abundance and vigor and insect infestation. The medium textured soils were most favorable for plains prickly pear. High livestock numbers, reduced abundance on level, medium textured soils, and increased plant vigor on coarse textured, sloping soils.