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Wind Cave National Park

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One of the major grassland communities in Wind Cave National Park is the little bluestem - big bluestem - sideoats grama (Schizachyrium scoparius-Andropogon gerardi-Bouteloua curtipendula) Community. The effects of fire on the components of this plant community were deemed important because: 1) this warm season community occupies a significant portion of the grasslands of the Park; 2) the community occurs on soils that are usually shallow, rocky, and weakly developed and are, therefore, highly susceptible to erosion if the plant cover is reduced by fire; and 3) previous pilot studies have indicated a wide variation in response to fire by the major components of this community, possibly due to variations in fuel and soil moisture at the time of ignition.