Welcome to the Rangeland Ecology & Management archives. The journal Rangeland Ecology & Management (RE&M; v58, 2005-present) is the successor to the Journal of Range Management (JRM; v. 1-57, 1948-2004.) The archives provide public access, in a "rolling window" agreement with the Society for Range Management, to both titles (JRM and RE&M), from v.1 up to five years from the present year.

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Print ISSN: 0022-409x

Online ISSN: 1550-7424


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  • Growth of Chickasaw Plum in Oklahoma

    Dunkin, Stacy W.; Githery, Fred S.; Will, Rodney E. (Society for Range Management, 2008-11-01)
    Management of rangelands for wildlife and livestock entails understanding growth of clonal shrubs such as Chickasaw plum (Prunus angustifolia Marsh.). We studied growth of this species in one county in north-central (Payne) and two counties in northwestern Oklahoma (Ellis, Harper) during 2006 and 2007. We estimated age of stems and roots by growth rings and area of stands with the use of a handheld GPS unit. Based on zero-intercept regression models, stands grew at similar rates (overlapping 95% confidence intervals [CIs]) among counties with a pooled estimate of 31.0 m2 yr-1 (95% CI = 26.5–35.6 m2 yr-1; n = 95). This rate showed considerable variability within and among study sites (r = 0.52). Stem diameter increased (zero-intercept models) more rapidly in north-central Oklahoma (5.27 mm yr-1; 95% CI = 5.01– 5.53 mm yr-1; r = 0.90; n = 53) than in northwestern Oklahoma (3.68 mm yr-1; 95% CI = 3.55–3.81 mm yr-1; r = 0.91; n = 102); data were pooled because of similar rates in Ellis and Harper counties. Stem height was a power function of stem age (y = 0.97x0.28; r = 0.56), indicating rate of growth in height (m y-1) declined with age according to dy/dx = 0.27x-0.72. Knowledge of the area expansion rate of Chickasaw plum clones aids in management planning to increase or decrease canopy coverage by this shrub. 
  • Cattle Grazing Distribution and Efficacy of Strategic Mineral Mix Placement in Tropical Brazilian Pastures

    Goulart, Ricardo C. D.; Corsi, Moacyr; Bailey, Derek W.; Zocchi, Silvio S. (Society for Range Management, 2008-11-01)
    A study was conducted in Brazil to identify factors affecting grazing distribution of yearling Nelore cross heifers and to evaluate the efficacy of placement of a salt-mineral mix away from water to improve uniformity of grazing. Two pastures (25 ha and 42 ha) were evaluated for four 15-d sessions. Mineral mix was placed 590 m to 780 m from water during two sessions and at water for two sessions. Stubble heights were measured at the beginning and end of each session in 1-ha subunits of each pasture. Cattle locations were recorded on day 13 and 14 of each session by horseback observers. Heifers avoided areas with a preponderance of forbs and taller grass (P < 0.001). For the first 15 days of the study cattle avoided subunits farther from water. Thereafter, horizontal distance from water had no affect on grazing use (P > 0.10). Stubble height reduction was more uniform (P < 0.05) when the mineral mix was at water compared to away from water. In contrast, heifers spent less time farther from water when mineral mix was placed at water (P = 0.02) based on visual observations. Strategic placement of a salt-mineral mix away from water does not appear to be a reliable tool to improve cattle grazing distribution in humid tropical pastures from 25 ha to 45 ha in size. 
  • Evaluating Livestock Grazing Use With Streambank Alteration Protocols: Challenges and Solutions

    Heitke, Jeremiah D.; Henderson, Richard C.; Roper, Brett B.; Archer, Eric K. (Society for Range Management, 2008-11-01)
    Appropriate management of livestock in riparian areas can help ensure that these ecosystems are maintained. We evaluated how one indicator of livestock grazing in riparian areas, streambank alteration, was affected by choices related to protocols and personnel used for these assessments. We found that although streambank alteration protocols were generally repeatable among observers, results were affected by factors not directly related to grazing intensity, including 1) training, 2) professional background, 3) location and intensity of measurements, and 4) the protocol used. Training reduced estimates of alteration and observer variability. Rangeland professionals had higher estimates of streambank alteration than seasonal technicians. Rapid assessments of alteration were correlated with more intensive estimates; however, the relationship was not 1:1. Different protocols resulted in different alterations estimates when alterations at the same locations were estimated. Given the large number of monitoring programs, personnel, and methods used to assess streambank alteration, we suggest more thought be given on how to standardize monitoring efforts so results consistently reflect the true amount of alteration at a site. We also remind managers that no protocol can be implemented without some error. Managers should therefore be careful when taking action based on a single evaluation—especially when the result is near a management standard or threshold. When these concerns are addressed, indicators such as streambank alteration can help ensure management decisions maintain both sustainable allotments and landscapes. 
  • Rough Agave Flowers as a Potential Feed Resource for Growing Goats

    Mellado, Miguel; Garcia, Jose E.; Pittroff, Wolfgang (Society for Range Management, 2008-11-01)
    The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of different levels of rough agave (Agave scabra Ortega) flowers on dry matter intake (DMI), average daily gain (ADG), volatile fatty acid (VFA) production in the rumen, and particular serum metabolites and minerals of native3dairy growing goats (Capra hircus L.). Forty female goats with an initial weight of 11.1 +/- 1.9 kg (mean 6 SD) were used in a completely randomized design experiment that lasted for 84 d. Goats were fed a completely mixed ration (30% roughage, 70% ground corn [Zea mays L.] and soybean [Glycine max {L.} Merr] meal). Treatments consisted of offering goats (4 pens group-1, 2 goats pen-1) air-dry rough agave flowers, which replaced alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) hay at 0% (control; T0), 25% (T25), 50% (T50), 75% (T75), and 100% (T100) of the of the roughage portion of the diet. Values of nutritional parameters for rough agave flowers were in vitro organic matter digestibility, 493 g kg-1; crude protein, 115 g kg-1; and metabolizable energy, 6.29 MJ kg-1 DMI. There were differences (P < 0.05) in ADG (range, 108-155 g d-1) between diets. Goats fed T0 had higher (P < 0.05) gains than goats fed T50 and T100. DMI was not affected by dietary treatments (range, 3.4% to 3.6% of body weight). Feed conversion ratio (FCR, defined as DMI/ADG) increased (P < 0.05) 27% with total substitution of alfalfa by rough agave flowers, in comparison with T0. Lower (P < 0.05) values of total VFA were obtained with T100, in comparison with all other dietary treatments. These results demonstrated that totally replacing alfalfa with rough agave flowers in diets did not affect DMI but decreased AGD and compromised FCR. Thus, rough agave flowers have the potential to partially replace alfalfa in diets for growing goats. 
  • Native Plant Growth and Seedling Establishment in Soils Influenced by Bromus tectorum

    Rowe, Helen I.; Brown, Cynthia S. (Society for Range Management, 2008-11-01)
    The invasion of 40 million hectares of the American West by cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.) has caused widespread modifications in the vegetation of semi-arid ecosystems and increased the frequency of fires. In addition to well-understood mechanisms by which cheatgrass gains competitive advantage, it has been implicated in reducing arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) abundance and taxa diversity. We evaluated this possibility at a high elevation site in a two-pronged approach. To test whether cheatgrass changed native AMF communities in ways that affected subsequent native plant growth, we grew cheatgrass and native plants in native soils and then planted native plants into these soils in a greenhouse experiment. We found that cheatgrass-influenced soils did not inhibit native plant growth or AMF sporulation or colonization. To test whether soils in cheatgrass-dominated areas inhibited establishment and growth of native plants, cheatgrass was removed and six seeding combinations were applied. We found that 14.02 +/- 1.7 seedlings m-2 established and perennial native plant cover increased fourfold over the three years of this study. Glyphosate reduced cheatgrass cover to less than 5% in the year it was applied but did not facilitate native plant establishment or growth compared with no glyphosate. We conclude that cheatgrass influence on the soil community does not appear to contribute to its invasion success in these high elevation soils. It appears that once cheatgrass is controlled on sites with sufficient native plant abundance, there may be few lingering effects to inhibit the natural reestablishment of native plant communities. 
  • Comparison of Medusahead-Invaded and Noninvaded Wyoming Big Sagebrush Steppe in Southeastern Oregon

    Davies, Kirk W.; Svejcar, Tony J. (Society for Range Management, 2008-11-01)
    Medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae [L.] Nevski) is an exotic, annual grass invading sagebrush steppe rangelands in the western United States. Medusahead invasion has been demonstrated to reduce livestock forage, but otherwise information comparing vegetation characteristics of medusahead-invaded to noninvaded sagebrush steppe communities is limited. This lack of knowledge makes it difficult to determine the cost-benefit ratio of controlling and preventing medusahead invasion. To estimate the impact of medusahead invasion, vegetation characteristics were compared between invaded and noninvaded Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata subsp. wyomingensis [Beetle A. Young] S. L. Welsh) steppe communities that had similar soils, topography, climate, and management. Noninvaded plant communities had greater cover and density of all native herbaceous functional groups compared to medusahead-invaded communities (P < 0.01). Large perennial grass cover was 15-fold greater in the noninvaded compared to invaded plant communities. Sagebrush cover and density were greater in the noninvaded compared to the medusahead-invaded communities (P<0.01). Biomass production of all native herbaceous functional groups was higher in noninvaded compared to invaded plant communities (P < 0.02). Perennial and annual forb biomass production was 1.9- and 45-fold more, respectively, in the noninvaded than invaded communities. Species richness and diversity were greater in the noninvaded than invaded plant communities (P<0.01). The results of this study suggest that medusahead invasion substantially alters vegetation characteristics of sagebrush steppe plant communities, and thereby diminishes wildlife habitat, forage production, and ecosystem functions. Because of the broad negative influence of medusahead invasion, greater efforts should be directed at preventing its continued expansion. 
  • Point Sampling to Stratify Biomass Variability in Sagebrush Steppe Vegetation

    Clark, Patrick E.; Hardegree, Stuart P.; Moffet, Corey A.; Pierson, Fredrick B. (Society for Range Management, 2008-11-01)
    Cover and yield are two of the most commonly monitored plant attributes in rangeland vegetation surveys. These variables are usually highly correlated and many previous authors have suggested point-intercept estimates of plant cover could be used as a surrogate for more expensive and destructive methods of estimating plant biomass. When measurement variables are highly correlated, double sampling can be used to prestratify variability in the measurement that is more difficult or costly to obtain, thus improving sampling efficiency. The objective of this study was to examine the cost effectiveness of using point-intercept data to prestratify variability in subsequent clipped-biomass sampling on a sagebrush-bunchgrass rangeland site in southern Idaho. Point-intercept and biomass data were obtained for shrub, grass, and forb vegetation in 90 1-m2 plots. These data were used to develop a synthetic population of 10000 simulated plots for conducting sensitivity analysis on alternative double- sampling scenarios. Monte Carlo simulation techniques were used to determine the effect of sampling design on cost and variability of biomass estimates as a function of point-intercept sample size (i), number of point-intercept sample strata (s), and number of biomass samples per stratum (m). Minimization of variability in biomass estimates were always obtained from double-sampling scenarios in which a single median biomass estimate was obtained for a given stratum in the point-intercept data. Double-sampling strategies in which half of the point-intercept plots were also measured for biomass yielded a cost savings of 39% with a reduction in biomass-sample precision of 18% +/- 4 SD. The relative loss of precision in biomass estimates (62% +/- 12 SD) became equal to the relative cost savings of double sampling for scenarios in which the ratio of point-intercept/ biomass samples exceeded a value of five. 
  • Design and Analysis of Rangeland Experiments Along Continuous Gradients

    Koper, Nicola; Henderson, Darcy C.; Wilmshurst, John F.; Fargey, Patrick J.; Sissons, Robert A. (Society for Range Management, 2008-11-01)
    Measuring the effects of grazing intensity on the structure, composition, and function of grassland ecosystems has been a perennial challenge. Space limits replication, few replicates limit statistical power, and categorical treatments limit interpretation of effects among treatment levels. Treating grazing as a continuous rather than categorical variable can permit large-scale experiments to be conducted with fewer constraints on treatment replication to maintain statistical power. Using power analysis on a grazing experiment recently initiated in Grasslands National Park of Canada, we demonstrate that the continuous approach permits the use of fewer pastures, while maintaining the large pasture size required to allow realistic grazing behavior by cattle and improving our ability to answer biologically relevant questions regarding grazing effects on grassland ecosystems. We contend that this approach, when applied to grazing experiments, will help test hypotheses related to how grassland ecosystems respond to a gradient of disturbance regimes. 
  • Postfire Recovery of Sagebrush Communities: Assessment Using SPOT-5 and Very Large-Scale Aerial Imagery

    Sankey, Temuulen Tsagaan; Moffet, Corey; Weber, Keith (Society for Range Management, 2008-11-01)
    Much interest lies in long-term recovery rates of sagebrush communities after fire in the western United States, as sagebrush communities comprise millions of hectares of rangelands and are an important wildlife habitat. Little is known about postfire changes in sagebrush canopy cover over time, especially at a landscape scale. We studied postfire recovery of shrub canopy cover in sagebrush-steppe communities with the use of spectral mixture analysis. Our study included 16 different fires that burned between 1937 and 2005 and one unburned site at the US Sheep Experiment Station in eastern Idaho. Spectral mixture analysis was used with September 2006 Systeme Pour l’Observation de la Terre-5 (SPOT-5) satellite imagery to estimate percent shrub canopy cover within pixels. Very large-scale aerial (VLSA) imagery with 24-mm resolution was used for training and validation. SPOT-5 image classification was successful and the spectral mixture analysis estimates of percent shrub canopy cover were highly correlated with the shrub canopy cover estimates in the VLSA imagery (R2 = 0.82; P < 0.0001). Additional accuracy assessment of shrub classification produced 85% overall accuracy, 98% user’s accuracy, and 78% producer’s accuracy. This successful application of spectral mixture analysis has important implications for the monitoring and assessment of sagebrush- steppe communities. With the use of the percent shrub canopy cover estimates from the classified SPOT-5 imagery, we examined shrub canopy recovery rates since different burn years. With the use of linear-plateau regression, it was determined that shrub cover in mountain big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt. subsp. vaseyana [Rydb.] Beetle) communities recovered approximately 27 yr after fire, with an average shrub cover of 38%. These results are consistent with other field-based studies in mountain big sagebrush communities. 
  • Mesquite, Tobosagrass, and Common Broomweed Responses to Fire Season and Intensity

    Ansley, R. J.; Pinchak, W. E.; Jones, D. L. (Society for Range Management, 2008-11-01)
    There has been increasing interest in the use of summer fires to limit woody plant encroachment on grasslands, but information regarding effects of such fires on perennial grass recovery and annual forb production is also needed. Our objective was to examine effects of fire seasonality and intensity on the woody legume honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa Torr.), the C4 midgrass tobosagrass (Pleuraphis mutica Buckl.), and the annual forb common broomweed (Amphiachyris dracunculoides [DC.] Nutt.). Treatments included summer fires, high-intensity winter fires, low-intensity winter fires, and no burn in replicated plots. None of the fire treatments caused whole-plant mortality (root kill) in mesquite. Mesquite aboveground mortality (top kill) was much greater after summer and high-intensity winter fires than low-intensity winter fires. Tobosagrass total yield (live + dead) was lower following summer fires and was not enhanced by any of the fire treatments for two growing seasons postfire when compared to the no-burn condition. However, tobosagrass live yield was 40% greater in the high-intensity winter fire treatment than the no-burn condition the first summer postfire and recovered in the other fire treatments by the end of the first growing season postfire. Tobosagrass percentage of live tissue was greatest in the summer fire treatment at the end of each of the two growing seasons postfire. Common broomweed cover increased in the summer fire treatment and decreased in both winter fire treatments relative to the no-burn condition by the end of the first growing season postfire. Summer fire offered no clear advantage over high-intensity winter fire with respect to mesquite suppression. However, the increase in late-season tobosagrass percentage live tissue caused by summer fire may be advantageous for forage quality. In addition, patch burning summer fires to increase broomweed cover in selected areas may be useful for wildlife habitat. 
  • Plant Community and Soil Microbial Carbon and Nitrogen Responses to Fire and Clipping in a Southern Mixed Grassland

    Harris, W. N.; Boutton, T. W.; Ansley, R. J. (Society for Range Management, 2008-11-01)
    Disturbances, such as fire and grazing, play important roles in determining grassland plant community composition and soil microbial dynamics, as well as regulating the flows of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) between the two groups of organisms. In a mixed grassland of the southern Great Plains, we tested the hypotheses that spring-season fire would increase the absolute biomass and relative proportion of C4 grasses in the plant community, and decrease soil microbial biomass N, thereby increasing microbial C:N ratios. We also tested the hypothesis that clipping (to simulate grazing) would reduce effects of fire, with a greater reduction of fire effect corresponding to an increased frequency of clipping. Contrary to our hypothesis, C4 grasses showed no significant treatment responses. Treatment effects were limited to C3 grasses, and clipping was more important than fire in terms of effects on plant community composition. However, because of its greater capacity to reduce aboveground litter, fire had the greater impact on soil microbial C. Contrary to the hypothesized outcome, no significant effects of disturbance on soil microbial N were observed. This suggests that control of N cycling in this ecosystem is primarily microbial in nature, though dependent on inputs of plant C via litter. Interactions between fire and clipping were observed in litter mass, highlighting the importance of litter inputs for plant-soil nutrient feedbacks. 
  • Fire History in a Chaparral Ecosystem: Implications for Conservation of a Native Ungulate

    Bleich, Vernon C.; Johnson, Heather E.; Holl, Stephen A.; Konde, Lora; Torres, Steven G.; Krausman, Paul R. (Society for Range Management, 2008-11-01)
    Mature chaparral vegetation in the San Gabriel Mountains, California, resulting from long fire-return intervals (50-70 yr), has resulted in reduced visibility and availability and quality of forage, all of which are important attributes of mountain sheep (Ovis canadensis) habitat. Concomitantly, vegetation changes have decreased availability and quality of forage. We developed a resource-selection model to determine the effect of fire history on habitat use by mountain sheep, examined the hypotheses that habitat selection was associated with fire occurrence, and determined whether fire occurrence influenced the amount of potential habitat available to mountain sheep. The best model indicated that mountain sheep selected vegetation that had burned within 15 yr and avoided areas that had not burned within that time frame. We then used our model to quantify potential changes in mountain sheep habitat that have occurred over time based on fire conditions. We identified 390 km2 of mountain sheep habitat that existed in 2002 (when only 63 mountain sheep were tallied), 486 km2 in 1980 (when the mountain sheep population was at its highest), and 422 km2 in 2004 (just after a series of large wildfires). We also estimated that 615 km2 of suitable habitat would be available in a hypothetical situation in which the entire study area burned. Our results suggest that restoration of mountain sheep to their historical distribution in chaparral ecosystems will depend upon more frequent fires in areas formerly occupied by those specialized herbivores. 
  • Short-Term Mesquite Pod Consumption by Goats Does Not Induce Toxicity

    Cook, Robert W.; Scott, Cody B.; Hartmann, F. Steve (Society for Range Management, 2008-09-01)
    Goats, unlike cattle, disperse few viable mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa Torr.) seeds in feces. However, there is some evidence that goats may suffer from toxicosis from overingestion of mesquite pods. We assessed the likelihood that short-term ingestion of mesquite pods would induce toxicosis in goats. Twenty-four goats were randomly allocated to one of four treatments with treatments fed different concentrations (0%, 30%, 60%, or 90% of the diet) of whole mesquite pods fed with alfalfa pellets. The mixture of mesquite pods and alfalfa pellets was fed for 12 d to 14 d. Because there were only 12 pens available for the study, two trials were used so that all 24 goats could be housed in individual pens. Intake, serum metabolite levels, and fecal output were measured to assess physiological status. In Trial 1, intake and fecal output decreased on days 12 through 14 for goats consuming a diet of 90% mesquite pods. In the second trial, intake and fecal output were similar across days of feeding within each treatment, but the trial only lasted 12 d. Serum metabolite levels remained within normal levels irrespective of the amount of mesquite pods in the diet in both trials. Goats appear to be able to consume mesquite pods on a short-term basis without experiencing toxicosis. 
  • Common Broomweed Growth Characteristics in Cleared and Woody Landscapes

    Stanford, Roy L.; Ansley, R. James; Ransom, Dean (Society for Range Management, 2008-09-01)
    Common broomweed (Amphiachyris dracunculoides [DC] Nutt. Ex Rydb.) is an annual forb that occurs throughout the southern Great Plains, USA. During years of abundant growth, broomweed is problematic because it can reduce grass production and interfere with livestock foraging. In contrast, the canopy structure of broomweed may provide habitat cover for wildlife, including the northern bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus Linnaeus). During an extreme outbreak of broomweed in north Texas in 2007, we observed apparent differences in broomweed individual plant growth characteristics in mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa Torr.) woodland areas versus areas that had recently been cleared of mesquite. Our objective was to document differences at the individual plant and population levels. Individual plant mass, canopy diameter, and basal stem diameter were much greater in the cleared treatment than the mesquite woodland. In contrast, plant height was greater in the woodland than in the cleared treatment. Population variables of stand-level production, percentage canopy cover, plant density, and visual obstruction were not different between treatments. Total perennial grass production was greater in the cleared than the woodland treatment, because of the negative effect of mesquite on grass production. Variations in broomweed growth characteristics may have implications regarding livestock foraging and wildlife habitat. 
  • Jaguar and Puma Predation on Cattle Calves in Northeastern Sonora, Mexico

    Rosas-Rosas, Octavio C.; Bender, Louis C.; Valdez, Raul (Society for Range Management, 2008-09-01)
    Predation by jaguars (Panthera onca) and pumas (Puma concolor) is often a source of conflict with cattle ranching in northeastern Sonora, Mexico. Because jaguars are endangered in Mexico, such conflicts have biological, social, and economic consequences. We documented the extent of predation by jaguars and pumas on cattle in 1999-2004 in northeastern Sonora, where the northernmost breeding population of jaguars exists in North America. Jaguars and pumas killed only calves , 12 mo old, and calves constituted 58% of prey biomass consumed by jaguars and 9% by pumas. Annual cause-specific mortality rates of confirmed jaguar predation (< 0.018), confirmed and suspected jaguar predation (< 0.018), and all confirmed and suspected large felid predation (< 0.018) were low and cattle calf survival was high (0.89-0.98 annually). If calves reported as missing but for which no evidence of mortality could be found were classed as large felid predation, annual cause-specific rates increased to 0.006-0.038. Collectively, confirmed jaguar and puma predation accounted for < 14% (57/408) of total cattle losses, with jaguars responsible for 14% of all calf losses; this could increase to a maximum of 36% (146/408) if missing calves were included in the totals. While jaguar and puma predation may have an impact on some small cattle operations, it is generally minor compared to losses from other causes in northeastern Sonora. Moreover, 91% of all confirmed calf kills were associated with three individual jaguars in our study. Targeting problem cats rather than broad-scale predator control may therefore be a viable alternative to address chronic predation problems. Because most (83%) instances of jaguar predation occurred during the dry season along thick riparian habitats, modified cattle husbandry operations, such as establishment of permanent water sources in uplands and away from dense vegetative cover, could ameliorate many cases of predation by jaguars on cattle. 
  • Does Doramectin Use on Cattle Indirectly Affect the Endangered Burrowing Owl?

    Floate, Kevin D.; Bouchard, Patrice; Holroyd, Geoff; Poulin, Ray; Wellicome, Troy I. (Society for Range Management, 2008-09-01)
    Doramectin is one of several endectocide compounds widely used to treat nematode and arthropod pests affecting cattle. Insecticidal residues in dung of endectocide-treated cattle can reduce numbers of dung-breeding insects. Concerns have been raised that use of endectocides may adversely affect birds that rely on dung-breeding insects as food. However, these concerns have not been specifically addressed in previous studies. We performed two studies to collectively assess whether doramectin adversely affects burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia Molina), which are listed as ‘‘Endangered’’ in Canada. In the first study, insect emergence was monitored from dung of cattle treated with a recommended topical dose of doramectin. Experiments replicated in each of 3 yr showed residues reduce the number of insects developing in dung of cattle treated up to 16 wk previously. In the second study, we identified prey items from regurgitated pellets collected at 206 burrowing owl nests in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. A total of 50 213 prey items were identified, of which 90% were invertebrates. Beetles (Coleoptera) comprised 54% of the total prey items, followed next in abundance by grasshoppers (Acrididae, 20%) and crickets (Gryllidae, 16%). Of the beetles, 1 381 specimens were identified as breeding in dung (mainly species of Aphodius, Canthon, Onthophagus). The dung beetles comprised an estimated 2.8% of the total prey items or 0.1% of total prey biomass. Results of the first study validate initial concerns that doramectin use can reduce numbers of insects breeding in dung of treated cattle. Results of the second study show reliance of burrowing owls on dung beetles is sufficiently low that use of doramectin on cattle is unlikely to appreciably affect the food supply of co-occurring burrowing owls. 
  • Temporal Variation in Diet and Nutrition of Preincubating Greater Sage-Grouse

    Gregg, Michael A.; Barnett, Jenny K.; Crawford, John A. (Society for Range Management, 2008-09-01)
    Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) habitat management involves vegetation manipulations to increase or decrease specific habitat components. For sage-grouse habitat management to be most effective, an understanding of the functional response of sage-grouse to changes in resource availability is critical. We investigated temporal variation in diet composition and nutrient content (crude protein, calcium, and phosphorus) of foods consumed by preincubating female sage- grouse relative to food supply and age of hen. We collected 86 preincubating female greater sage-grouse at foraging areas during early (18-31 March) and late (1-12 April) preincubation periods during 2002-2003. Females consumed 22 food types including low sagebrush (Artemisia arbuscula Nutt.), big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt.), 15 forb species, 2 insect taxa, sagebrush galls, moss, and a trace amount of unidentified grasses. Low sagebrush was the most common food item, but forbs were found in 89% of the crops and composed 30.1% aggregate dry mass (ADM) of the diet. ADM and species composition of female diets were highly variable between collection periods and years, and coincided with temporal variation in forb availability. Adult females consumed more forbs and less low sagebrush compared to yearling females. Because of higher levels of crude protein, calcium, and phosphorus, forbs were important diet components in comparison with low sagebrush, which had the lowest nutrient content of all foods consumed. Our results indicate that increased forb abundance in areas used by female sage-grouse prior to nesting would increase their forb consumption and nutritional status for reproduction. We recommend that managers should emphasize delineation of habitats used by preincubating sage-grouse and evaluate the need for enhancing forb abundance and diversity. 
  • Combined Impacts of Native Grass Competition and Introduced Weevil Herbivory on Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense)

    Ferrero-Serrano, Angel; Collier, Timothy R.; Hild, Ann L.; Mealor, Brian A.; Smith, Thomas (Society for Range Management, 2008-09-01)
    Invading exotics typically face new competitors and an absence of specialized herbivores in their new ranges. Biological control attempts to reunite invasive weeds with coevolved herbivores and restoration can reduce the return of invaders by maximizing competition from native species. The integration of both approaches is seldom examined in detail, although the two should complement each other. We investigated the potential to suppress an important invasive plant, Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense [L.] Scop.), by integrating biological control and competition from two native grasses frequently used in rangeland restoration. We evaluated the impacts of Ceutorhynchus litura F. (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), a weevil used for Canada thistle biological control, alone and in combination with either needle and thread grass (Hesperostipa comata [Trin. Rupr.] Barkworth) or alkali sacaton (Sporobolus airoides [Torr.] Torr.) in greenhouse competitive plantings. Weevil herbivory reduced root, but not shoot, biomass of Canada thistle. Competition from H. comata did not reduce biomass of thistles, but combinations of the weevil and H. comata greatly reduced thistle root biomass. S. airoides suppressed Canada thistle root biomass independent of weevils. Weevils had a positive indirect effect on the cool-season grass H. comata, presumably by reducing the competitive ability of thistles, but had no effect on biomass of the warm-season grass, S. airoides. Benefits of weevil presence as an augmentation of grass competition appear to depend on appropriate timing, and weevils provided the most benefit to the cool- season competitor. Our results suggest that restoration efforts can be complemented with insect biocontrol agents, although the timing of impact will depend on the particular weed species, grass competitors, and biocontrol insect agents involved. 
  • Microchannels Affect Runoff and Sediment Yield From a Shortgrass Prairie

    Koler, Selina A.; Frasier, G. W.; Trlica, M. J.; Reeder, J. D. (Society for Range Management, 2008-09-01)
    Runoff and sediment yield from rangelands are extremely important variables that affect productivity, but are difficult to quantify. Studies have been conducted to assess erosion on rangelands, but very little has been done to determine if microchannels (rills) affect runoff and sediment yield. Rainfall simulations were used to quantify the effects of microchannels on runoff and sediment loss on a shortgrass prairie with two types of range conditions (good and fair). Natural flow paths within plots in the two range conditions were defined and then enhanced with an ellipse-shaped hoe to create microchannels. Soil from plots was removed at two rates (11.2 t ha-1 and 22.4 t ha-1) to create three soil surface configurations. Soil was removed by vacuuming to create either a single microchannel or multiple microchannels down the plot, and the third treatment was uniform soil removal over the entire plot (sheet). Results showed significantly greater total runoff from both single and multiple microchannel treatments compared with sheet soil removal. The microchannels resulted in significantly less sediment yield per unit of runoff compared with the sheet soil removal treatment. Both runoff and sediment yield were affected by range condition. Plots that were in fair range condition, dominated by buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides [Nutt.] Engleman), had a greater amount of total runoff (double) but less sediment yield (75%) than plots in good range condition that were dominated by blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis [H.B.K.] Lag. ex Stued.). The dense buffalo grass sod protected the soil surface from erosion, but water flowed freely across the sod. This study has provided a greater understanding of how microchannels affect runoff and sediment yield under different rangeland conditions, and has illustrated how plant species composition and soil surface features relate to several hydrologic functions. 
  • Long-Term Response Patterns of Tallgrass Prairie to Frequent Summer Burning

    Towne, E. Gene; Kemp, Ken E. (Society for Range Management, 2008-09-01)
    Knowledge of how tallgrass prairie vegetation responds to fire in the late growing season is relatively sparse and is based upon studies that are either spatially or temporally limited. To gain a more robust perspective of vegetation response to summer burning and to determine if repeated summer fire can drive vegetational changes in native tallgrass prairie, we evaluated species cover and richness over a 14-yr period on different topographic positions from ungrazed watersheds that were burned biennially in the growing season. We found that annual forbs were the primary beneficiaries of summer burning, but their fluctuations varied inconsistently among years. Concomitantly, species richness and diversity increased significantly with summer burning but remained stable through time with annual spring burning. After 14 yr, species richness was 28% higher in prairie that was burned in the summer than in prairie burned in the spring. Canopy cover of big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii Vitman) and Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans [L.] Nash) increased significantly over time with both summer and spring burning, whereas heath aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides [L.] Nesom), aromatic aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium [Nutt.] Nesom), and sedges (Carex spp.) increased in response to only summer burning. Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) cover declined in both spring-burned and summer-burned watersheds. Repeated burning in either spring or summer did not reduce the cover or frequency of any woody species. Most perennial species were neutral in their reaction to summer fire, but a few species responded with large and inconsistent temporal fluctuations that overwhelmed any clear patterns of change. Although summer burning did not preferentially encourage spring-flowering forbs or suppress dominance of the warm-season grasses, it is a potentially useful tool to increase community heterogeneity in ungrazed prairie. 

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