• Potential of Kochia prostrata and Perennial Grasses for Rangeland Restoration in Jordan

      Bailey, Derek W.; Al Tabini, Raed; Waldron, Blair L.; Libbin, James D.; Al-Khalidi, Khalid; Alqadi, Ahmad; Al Oun, Mohammad; Jensen, Kevin B. (Society for Range Management, 2010-11-01)
      Six varieties of forage kochia (Kochia prostrata [L.] Schrad.), two Atriplex shrubs native to North America, and four drought-tolerant perennial grass varieties were seeded and evaluated under arid rangeland conditions in Jordan. Varieties were seeded in December 2007 and evaluated in 2008 and 2009 at two sites. Conditions were dry with Qurain receiving 110 mm and 73 mm and Tal Rimah receiving 58 mm and 43 mm of annual precipitation during the winters of 2007/2008 and 2008/2009, respectively. Plants were more abundant and taller (P < 0.001) at Qurain than Tal Rimah in 2008. Forage kochia frequency was 48% and 30% in 2008 at Qurain and Tal Rimah, respectively. However, no seeded plants were observed at Tal Rimah in 2009, suggesting that 58 mm and 43 mm of annual precipitation are insufficient to allow plants to persist over multiple years. At the wetter site, forage kochia abundance in 2009 was similar (P=0.90) to that observed in 2008 and plant height increased (P < 0.001) from 2008 (14.4 cm +/- 1.1 SE) to 2009 (38.4 cm +/- 1.1 SE). Sahro-select and Otavny-select were the most abundant forage kochia varieties (P<0.05), suggesting that these experimental lines could be more adapted to the environmental conditions of Jordan than the commercially available cultivar Immigrant. Frequency of perennial grass varieties declined (P<0.001) at Qurain from 82% +/- 4 SE to 39% +/- 4 SE between 2008 and 2009, respectively. Among grasses, Siberian wheatgrass had better stands than crested wheatgrass, with Russian wildrye being intermediate. Based on this study, forage kochia appears to have great potential for establishing palatable perennial shrubs in arid rangeland conditions in Jordan if annual precipitation is at least 70 mm. Arid-adapted perennial grass varieties might also be useful in rangeland restoration if annual precipitation is over 100 mm. 
    • Phenotypic and Genetic Characterization of Western Prairie Clover Collections From the Western United States

      Bhattarai, Kishor; Bushman, B. Shaun; Johnson, Douglas A.; Carman, John G. (Society for Range Management, 2010-11-01)
      Few North American legumes are available for rangeland revegetation in the semiarid western United States. Western prairie clover (Dalea ornata [Douglas ex Hook.] Eaton J. Wright) is a perennial legume with desirable forage characteristics and is distributed in the northern Great Basin, Snake River Basin, and southern Columbia Plateau. Understanding the genetic and ecotypic variability of this species is a prerequisite for developing populations suitable for revegetation purposes. To address this need, we established two common-garden plots of western prairie clover from 22 sites in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Significant variation was detected among the collections for all traits measured. Among the measured traits, flowering date was correlated with collection-site temperature and elevation. Population structure estimates from 474 amplified-fragment length polymorphism markers resulted in two distinct, genetically differentiated groups and a third admixed group, and flowering date played a significant role in discriminating those genetic-based groupings of collections. Positive correlations were observed between phenotypic and genetic distance matrices (r = 0.33, P = 0.005), phenotypic and geographic distance matrices (r = 0.35, P = 0.002), and genetic and geographic distance matrices (r = 0.31, P = 0.009). Based on these results, we recommend that two germplasm sources of western prairie clover be developed for use across the collection area, one from the Deschutes River region and the other encompassing Idaho, Washington, and eastern Oregon collection sites. 
    • Replication of a 1970s Study on Domestic Sheep Losses to Predators on Utah’s Summer Rangelands

      Palmer, Brian C.; Conover, Michael R.; Frey, S. Nicole (Society for Range Management, 2010-11-01)
      Lamb losses to predation have historically ranged from 4% to 8% in the western United States but most data are over 30 yr old. We repeated a sheep depredation study conducted from 1972 through 1975 on Cedar Mountain, Utah, to determine how predation rates have changed in the last three decades. Pastures and herd sizes were similar (1 730 lambs) between our study (2006 and 2007) and the prior one. Additionally, 40% of the ranchers in our study also participated in the prior study. During 2006 and 2007, 5.8% of all lambs on Cedar Mountain were lost to all causes compared to 9.5% during the 1970s. Predators were responsible for 87% of all verified lamb losses during our study versus 83% during the 1970s. We estimated that 4.9% of all lambs on Cedar Mountain were killed by predators during our study compared to 7.9% during the 1970s. During our study, coyotes (Canis latrans Say) were responsible for 67% of the depredated lambs, cougars (Felis concolor Linnaeus) for 31%, and black bears (Ursus americanus Pallas) for 2%. During the 1970s, coyotes killed 98% of all depredated lambs, cougars killed 2%, and bears killed 0%. In addition to the increase in cougar kills, the other change on Cedar Mountain since the 1970s is that California condors (Gymnogyps californianus Shaw) have begun scavenging lamb carcasses. Our results indicate that increasing populations of cougars, black bears, and condors have complicated the task of protecting lambs from predators. 
    • Restoring Tallgrass Prairie and Grassland Bird Populations in Tall Fescue Pastures With Winter Grazing

      Johnson, Tracey N.; Sandercock, Brett K. (Society for Range Management, 2010-11-01)
      Restoration of grasslands dominated by tall fescue (Schedonorus phoenix [Scop.] Holub) to native tallgrass prairie usually requires burning, herbicides, or reseeding. We tested seasonal grazing by livestock in winter, combined with cessation of fertilization, as a restoration tool for modifying the competitive dynamics among herbaceous plants to restore tallgrass prairie communities in southeastern Kansas. In 2004-2005, we compared responses of grassland plants and birds across a chronosequence of pastures that were winter-grazed from 1 yr to 5 yr. We compared winter-grazed pastures to pastures grazed year-round and to local native prairie remnants as starting and endpoints for restoration, respectively. Abundance of native warm- season grasses increased from 2% to 3% mean relative frequency in pastures grazed year-round to 18% to 30% in winter-grazed pastures, and increased with duration of winter-grazing. Native warm-season grasses accounted for 1-6% of total live aboveground biomass in pastures grazed year-round, 1-34% in winter-grazed pastures, and 31-34% in native prairie remnants. Tall fescue abundance and biomass were similar among grazing treatments, with a trend for tall fescue to be less dominant in winter-grazed pastures. Tall fescue made up 9-40% of total aboveground biomass in year-round grazed pastures and 10-25% in winter-grazed pastures. Grassland birds showed variable responses to winter-grazing. Dickcissels (Spiza americana) and Henslow’s sparrows (Ammodramus henslowii) were more abundant in winter-grazed pastures, whereas eastern meadowlarks (Sturnella magna) and grasshopper sparrows (A. savannarum) had similar abundance in pastures grazed year-round and during winter. Winter-grazing of pastures dominated by tall fescue combined with suspension of nitrogen fertilization could be an effective restoration technique that allows use of prairie rangeland while improving habitat for sensitive grassland birds. 
    • Pyric-Herbivory to Promote Rangeland Heterogeneity: Evidence From Small Mammal Communities

      Fuhlendorf, Samuel D.; Townsend, Darrell E.; Elmore, R. Dwayne; Engle, David M. (Society for Range Management, 2010-11-01)
      Management of rangelands has largely operated under the paradigm of minimizing spatially discrete disturbances, often under the objective of reducing inherent heterogeneity within managed ecosystems. This has led to a simplified understanding of rangelands and in many cases simplified rangelands. We argue that this type of management focus is incapable of maintaining biodiversity. An evolutionary model of disturbance (pyric-herbivory) suggests that grazing and fire interact through a series of feedbacks to cause a shifting mosaic of vegetation patterns across the landscape and has potential to serve as a model for management of grasslands with an evolutionary history of grazing. Our study demonstrates that the spatially controlled interaction of fire and grazing can be used to create heterogeneity in grassland ecosystems and the resulting heterogeneity in vegetation is expressed through other trophic levels, specifically small mammals in this study. Discrete fires were applied to patches, and patchy grazing by herbivores promoted a shifting vegetation mosaic across the landscape that created unique habitat structures for various small mammal species. Peromyscus maniculatus was about 10 times more abundant on recently burned patches (1-2 mo) than the uniform treatment or unburned patches within the shifting mosaic treatment. Chaetodipus hispidus was about 10 times greater in patches that were 15-20 mo post-fire in the shifting mosaic treatment than in the uniform treatment. Sigmodon hispidus, Microtus ochrogaster, and Reithrodontomys fluvescens became dominant in the shifting mosaic in patches that were more than 2 yr post-fire. This study, along with others, suggests that by managing transient focal patches, heterogeneity has the potential to be a new central paradigm for conservation of rangeland ecosystems and can enhance biological diversity and maintain livestock production across broad scales. 
    • Effects of Long-Term Livestock Grazing on Fuel Characteristics in Rangelands: An Example From the Sagebrush Steppe

      Davies, Kirk W.; Bates, Jonathan D.; Svejcar, Tony S.; Boyd, Chad S. (Society for Range Management, 2010-11-01)
      Livestock grazing potentially has substantial influence on fuel characteristics in rangelands around the globe. However, information quantifying the impacts of grazing on rangeland fuel characteristics is limited, and the effects of grazing on fuels are important because fuel characteristics are one of the primary factors determining risk, severity, continuity, and size of wildfires. We investigated the effects of long-term (70+ yr) livestock grazing exclusion (nongrazed) and moderate levels of livestock grazing (grazed) on fuel accumulations, continuity, gaps, and heights in shrub-grassland rangelands. Livestock used the grazed treatment through 2008 and sampling occurred in mid- to late summer in 2009. Nongrazed rangelands had over twofold more herbaceous standing crop than grazed rangelands (P < 0.01). Fuel accumulations on perennial bunchgrasses were approximately threefold greater in nongrazed than grazed treatments. Continuity of fuels in nongrazed compared to grazed treatments was also greater (P < 0.05). The heights of perennial grass current year’s and previous years’ growth were 1.3-fold and 2.2-fold taller in nongrazed compared to grazed treatments (P < 0.01). The results of this study suggest that moderate livestock grazing decreases the risk of wildfires in sagebrush steppe plant communities and potentially other semi-arid and arid rangelands. These results also suggest wildfires in moderately grazed sagebrush rangelands have decreased severity, continuity, and size of the burn compared to long-term nongrazed sagebrush rangelands. Because of the impacts fuels have on fire characteristics, moderate levels of grazing probably increase the efficiency of fire suppression activities. Because of the large difference between fuel characteristics in grazed and nongrazed sagebrush rangelands, we suggest that additional management impacts on fuels and subsequently fires need to be investigated in nonforested rangelands to protect native plant communities and prioritize management needs. 
    • Supplements Containing Escape Protein Improve Redberry Juniper Intake by Goats

      George, Chad H.; Scott, Cody B.; Whitney, Travis R.; Owens, Corey J.; May, Brian J.; Brantley, Richard (Society for Range Management, 2010-11-01)
      Redberry juniper (Juniperus pinchotii Sudw.) is a common invasive plant species in west-central Texas. Goats will consume redberry juniper, but intake is limited by monoterpenoids found in the plant. Previous research has shown that goats will increase juniper intake through 1) conditioning and 2) protein supplementation. This study compared intake of juniper when goats received different protein supplements either with or without protein sources that are high in amino acids that escape digestion in the rumen. Recently weaned Boer-cross goats (n = 47) were randomly placed into five treatments. Treatments 1, 2, 3, and 4 received a protein supplement and juniper for 1 h daily for 14 d, along with a basal diet of alfalfa pellets (2% body weight). Treatment 5 received only a basal diet of alfalfa pellets and juniper. All supplements were formulated to be isonitrogenous (37% crude protein [CP]). Treatment 1 contained cottonseed meal (high CP escape value), treatment 2 contained cottonseed meal and distiller’s dried grain (higher CP escape value), treatment 3 contained soybean meal (low CP escape value), and treatment 4 contained soybean meal and distiller’s dried grain (moderate CP escape value). Refusals of juniper, supplements, and alfalfa were weighed daily to determine intake. Supplementation with 1) cottonseed meal, 2) soybean meal, or 3) soybean meal and distillers dried grain did not influence (P > 0.05) juniper intake. Conversely, goats supplemented with cottonseed meal and distiller’s dried grain ate more (P < 0.05) juniper than goats receiving only alfalfa, possibly because of increased escape of glucogenic amino acids. We contend that supplementation with feeds high in protein escape values should increase juniper intake on rangelands. 
    • Perceptions of Landowners Concerning Conservation, Grazing, Fire, and Eastern Redcedar Management in Tallgrass Prairie

      Morton, Lois Wright; Regen, Elise; Engle, David M.; Miller, James R.; Harr, Ryan N. (Society for Range Management, 2010-11-01)
      Successful prairie restoration will depend in part on convincing private landowners with agricultural and recreational use goals to implement appropriate rangeland management practices, such as prescribed burning and cattle grazing, to control invasive species and encroachment of woody plants. However, landowners have been slow to adopt appropriate practices in the US Midwest. The purpose of this study was to explore attitudes and behaviors of private landowners toward prescribed burning and moderate stocking as rangeland management tools. A survey was mailed to 193 landowners (response rate 51%) in the Grand River Grasslands region of southern Iowa and northern Missouri. While 68% of landowners viewed grazing as a legitimate land management tool, only half of landowners thought of fire as a legitimate tool. Over 75% of respondents believed that the increase in eastern redcedar and other trees in grasslands was a problem, with 44% considering it a major problem. Although 84% of landowners said that they had taken action to control eastern redcedar, only 25% had participated in a prescribed burn. Income from agriculture and recreational goals were negatively and significantly correlated (–0.252, P = 0.035). While holding recreational goals constant in the analysis, landowners reporting income from agriculture goals as very or extremely important were negatively and significantly associated with reporting environment and grassland factors as very or extremely important. Adoption of prescribed burning by private landowners might be more widespread if proponents focus on the effectiveness of fire for controlling eastern redcedar, which is viewed as a problem by most landowners in the region. Intervention efforts must include landowners with different goals as part of the promotion and educational process. 
    • Tallgrass Prairie Plant Community Dynamics Along a Canopy Cover Gradient of Eastern Redcedar (Juniperus virginiana L.)

      Limb, Ryan F.; Engle, David M.; Alford, Aaron L.; Hellgren, Eric C. (Society for Range Management, 2010-11-01)
      North American grasslands make up less than 75% of their historic pre-European settlement area, and they continue to be converted to woodlands by woody plant encroachment. Conversion of grassland to woodland alters nutrient cycling, water use, and light penetration, which drives herbaceous plant community dynamics. Because studies examining this relationship among Juniperus species are limited largely to individual trees, we designed a study to examine the relationship between stand-level canopy cover of eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana L.) and the herbaceous plant community. We documented herbaceous plant species composition, abundance, and biomass within a North American tallgrass prairie invaded by eastern redcedar in which canopy cover of eastern redcedar ranged from 0% to 80%. Herbaceous species richness declined as a function of increased canopy cover of eastern redcedar and subsequent loss of open space, but this decrease in species richness closely followed a species-area model. Moreover, composition of C3 and C4 grasses and forbs did not change with increasing canopy cover. Herbaceous biomass, which declined with increasing canopy cover, varied most within those plots with intermediate canopy cover. While we found that species richness and biomass declined as canopy cover increased, the decline followed a species-area relationship and was without abrupt change typical of ecological thresholds. We recommend additional research with removal of eastern redcedar trees over a range of canopy cover to assess restoration potential along the encroachment gradient. 
    • Estimating Juniper Cover From National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) Imagery and Evaluating Relationships Between Potential Cover and Environmental Variables

      Davies, Kirk W.; Petersen, Steven L.; Johnson, Dustin D.; Davis, D. Bracken; Madsen, Matthew D.; Zvirzdin, Daniel L.; Bates, Jon D. (Society for Range Management, 2010-11-01)
      Western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis subsp. occidentalis Hook.) woodlands are expanding from their historic range and causing significant declines of other plant communities. However, landscape-scale restoration projects are hindered by time- consuming and expensive methods to inventory juniper cover and prioritize landscapes based on developmental phase of juniper encroachment. We investigated the ability of feature-extraction software to estimate western juniper cover from color aerial photographs obtained from the National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) and explored the relationships between juniper cover at stand closure (potential juniper cover) and environmental/site indices (heat load, site exposure, and integrated moisture index) and characteristics measured from commonly available geospatial data layers. Estimates of juniper cover derived from NAIP imagery and ground measurements were similar (R2 = 0.74; P < 0.01). Neither method consistently estimated juniper cover higher or lower than the other method (P = 0.79). Environmental indices were either not correlated or weakly correlated with juniper cover at stand closure. However, the environmental/site characteristics (slope, aspect, and elevation) could be used to explain 40% of the variation in juniper cover at stand closure (R2 = 0.40; P < 0.01). Thus, commonly available geospatial data layers can be used to assist in determining potential juniper cover. This information can then be compared to current juniper cover to determine juniper woodland developmental phase. Knowing the developmental phase is important because management strategies and effectiveness of restoration treatments differ among phases of juniper encroachment. Our results suggest that NAIP imagery can be a valuable tool to estimate juniper cover over large areas effectively to make landscape-scale restoration more feasible. The model of the relationship between environmental/site characteristics measured from commonly available geospatial data layers and potential juniper can be used to assist in restoration planning and prioritization, but could be improved with further refinement. 
    • Hydrologic Vulnerability of Sagebrush Steppe Following Pinyon and Juniper Encroachment

      Pierson, Frederick B.; Williams, C. Jason; Kormos, Patrick R.; Hardegree, Stuart P.; Clark, Patrick E.; Rau, Benjamin M. (Society for Range Management, 2010-11-01)
      Woodland encroachment on United States rangelands has altered the structure and function of shrub steppe ecosystems. The potential community structure is one where trees dominate, shrub and herbaceous species decline, and rock cover and bare soil area increase and become more interconnected. Research from the Desert Southwest United States has demonstrated areas under tree canopies effectively store water and soil resources, whereas areas between canopies (intercanopy) generate significantly more runoff and erosion. We investigated these relationships and the impacts of tree encroachment on runoff and erosion processes at two woodland sites in the Intermountain West, USA. Rainfall simulation and concentrated flow methodologies were employed to measure infiltration, runoff, and erosion from intercanopy and canopy areas at small-plot (0.5 m2) and large-plot (13 m2) scales. Soil water repellency and vegetative and ground cover factors that influence runoff and erosion were quantified. Runoff and erosion from rainsplash, sheet flow, and concentrated flow processes were significantly greater from intercanopy than canopy areas across small- and large-plot scales, and site-specific erodibility differences were observed. Runoff and erosion were primarily dictated by the type and quantity of ground cover. Litter offered protection from rainsplash effects, provided rainfall storage, mitigated soil water repellency impacts on infiltration, and contributed to aggregate stability. Runoff and erosion increased exponentially (r2 5 0.75 and 0.64) where bare soil and rock cover exceeded 50%. Sediment yield was strongly correlated (r250.87) with runoff and increased linearly where runoff exceeded 20 mm?h21. Measured runoff and erosion rates suggest tree canopies represent areas of hydrologic stability, whereas intercanopy areas are vulnerable to runoff and erosion. Results indicate the overall hydrologic vulnerability of sagebrush steppe following woodland encroachment depends on the potential influence of tree dominance on bare intercanopy expanse and connectivity and the potential erodibility of intercanopy areas. 
    • Applying Ecologically Based Invasive-Plant Management

      Sheley, R.; James, J.; Smith, B.; Vasquez, E. (Society for Range Management, 2010-11-01)
      The need for a unified mechanistic ecological framework that improves our ability to make decisions, predicts vegetation change, guides the implementation of restoration, and fosters learning is substantial and unmet. It is becoming increasingly clear that integrating various types of ecological models into an overall framework has great promise for assisting decision making in invasive-plant management and restoration. Overcoming barriers to adoption of ecologically based invasive-plant management will require developing principles and integrating them into a useful format so land managers can easily understand the linkages among ecological processes, vegetation dynamics, management practices, and assessment. We have amended a generally accepted and well-tested successional management framework into a comprehensive decision tool for ecologically based invasive-plant management (EBIPM) by 1) using the Rangeland Health Assessment to identify ecological processes in need of repair, 2) amending our framework to include principles for repairing ecological processes that direct vegetation dynamics, and 3) incorporating adaptive management procedures to foster the acquisition of new information during management. This decision tool provides a step-by-step planning process that integrates assessment and adaptive management with process-based principles to provide management guidance. In our case-study example, EBIPM increased the chance of restoration success by 66% over traditionally applied integrated weed management in an invasive-plant-dominated ephemeral wetland ecosystem. We believe that this framework provides the basis for EBIPM and will enhance our ability to design and implement sustainable invasive-plant management and restoration programs.