• Prescribed Fire, Grazing, and Herbaceous Plant Production in Shortgrass Steppe

      Augustine, David J.; Derner, Justin D.; Milchunas, Daniel G. (Society for Range Management, 2010-05-01)
      We examined the independent and combined effects of prescribed fire and livestock grazing on herbaceous plant production in shortgrass steppe of northeastern Colorado in the North American Great Plains. Burning was implemented in March, before the onset of the growing season. During the first postburn growing season, burning had no influence on soil moisture, nor did it affect soil nitrogen (N) availability in spring (April-May), but it significantly enhanced soil N availability in summer (June-July). Burning had no influence on herbaceous plant production in the first postburn growing season but enhanced in vitro dry matter digestibility of blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis [Willd. ex Kunth] Lag. ex Griffiths) forage sampled in late May. For the second postburn growing season, we found no difference in herbaceous plant production between sites that were burned and grazed in the previous year versus sites that were burned and protected from grazing in the previous year. Our results provide further evidence that prescribed burns conducted in late winter in dormant vegetation can have neutral or positive consequences for livestock production because of a neutral effect on forage quantity and a short-term enhancement of forage quality. In addition, our results indicate that with conservative stocking rates, deferment of grazing during the first postburn growing season may not be necessary to sustain plant productivity. 
    • Spatial Predictions of Cover Attributes of Rangeland Ecosystems Using Regression Kriging and Remote Sensing

      Karl, Jason W. (Society for Range Management, 2010-05-01)
      Sound rangeland management requires accurate information on rangeland condition over large landscapes. A commonly applied approach to making spatial predictions of attributes related to rangeland condition (e.g., shrub or bare ground cover) from remote sensing is via regression between field and remotely sensed data. This has worked well in some situations but has limited utility when correlations between field and image data are low and it does not take advantage of all information contained in the field data. I compared spatial predictions from generalized least-squares (GLS) regression to a geostatistical interpolator, regression kriging (RK), for three rangeland attributes (percent cover of shrubs, bare ground, and cheatgrass [Bromus tectorum L.]) in a southern Idaho study area. The RK technique combines GLS regression with spatial interpolation of the residuals to improve predictions of rangeland condition attributes over large landscapes. I employed a remote-sensing technique, object-based image analysis (OBIA), to segment Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper images into polygons (i.e., objects) because previous research has shown that OBIA yields higher image-to-field data correlations and can be used to select appropriate scales for analysis. Spatial dependence, the decrease in autocorrelation with increasing distance, was strongest for percent shrub cover (samples autocorrelated up to a distance [i.e., range] of 19 098 m) but present in all three variables (range of 12 646 m and 768 m for bare ground and cheatgrass cover, respectively). As a result, RK produced more accurate results than GLS regression alone for all three attributes when predicted versus observed values of each attribute were measured by leave- one-out cross validation. The results of RK could be used in assessments of rangeland conditions over large landscapes. The ability to create maps quantifying how prediction confidence changes with distance from field samples is a significant benefit of regression kriging and makes this approach suitable for landscape-level management planning.