• A Basis for Relative Growth Rate Differences Between Native and Invasive Forb Seedlings

      James, Jeremy J.; Drenovsky, Rebecca E. (Society for Range Management, 2007-07-01)
      The ability of invasive plants to achieve higher relative growth rates (RGR) than their native counterparts has been widely documented. However, the mechanisms allowing invasives to achieve higher RGR are poorly understood. The objective of this study was to determine the basis for RGR differences between native and invasive forbs that have widely invaded nutrient-poor soils of the Intermountain West. Six native and 6 invasive forbs were seeded in pots in a greenhouse, and 4 harvests were conducted over a 2-month period. These 4 harvests were used to calculate RGR and the components of RGR, net assimilation rate (rate of dry matter production per unit leaf area), leaf area ratio (LAR, leaf area per unit total plant mass), leaf mass ratio (the proportion of biomass allocated to leaves), and specific leaf area (SLA, leaf area per unit leaf biomass). Mean RGR of the 12 study species ranged between 0.04 and 0.15 g g-1 d-1 but was significantly higher for invasive forbs compared to native forbs (P = 0.036). The higher RGR achieved by invasive forbs was due mainly to a greater SLA and LAR. This indicates that invasive forbs achieved higher RGR than natives primarily by creating more leaf area per unit leaf mass, not by allocating more biomass to leaf tissue or by having a higher net rate of dry matter production. A high degree of variation in RGR, SLA, and LAR was observed in native forbs, suggesting that the ability to design weed-resistant plant communities may be improved by managing for specific functional traits as opposed to functional groups. 
    • Costs and Losses Imposed on California Ranchers by Yellow Starthistle

      Eagle, Alison J.; Eiswerth, Mark E.; Johnson, Wayne S.; Schoenig, Steve E.; Van Kooten, G. Cornelis (Society for Range Management, 2007-07-01)
      While the significant ecosystem damage caused by invasive weeds has been well documented, the economic consequences of specific invasive weed species are poorly understood. Yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis L., hereafter YST) is the most widespread noncrop weed in California, resulting in serious damage to forage on natural range and improved pasture. A survey was administered to California cattle ranchers to investigate YST infestation rates, loss of forage quantity and value, and control or eradication efforts. The results were used to estimate countywide losses and costs for 3 focus counties, as well as statewide losses/costs, due to YST in California. Total losses of livestock forage value due to YST on private land for the state of California are estimated at 7.65 million per year, with ranchers’ out-of-pocket expenditures on YST control amounting to 9.45 million per year. Together, these amount to the equivalent of 6%-7% of the total annual harvested pasture value for the state. Therefore, while the impacts are relatively small within the statewide total agricultural production system, losses and costs due to YST infestation do constrain California’s livestock grazing sector. 
    • GPS Error in Studies Addressing Animal Movements and Activities

      Ganskopp, David C.; Johnson, Dustin D. (Society for Range Management, 2007-07-01)
      Global Positioning System (GPS) error, associated with free-ranging animal studies, remains a concern in range/animal research. For distance measures, errors may be additive over time and increase as sampling frequency intensifies. The first study assayed effects of coordinate integration time (10 hourly intervals), 10 GPS collars, and range of unit movement (0 to 90 m in 10-m intervals as treatments) on bias of GPS measures of distance. ‘‘Bias’’ was the difference between measured distances and distances derived from GPS coordinates of units moved over a surveyed grid. A second study evaluated four methods (regression modeling, minimum distance threshold, motion sensor threshold, and a combined minimum distance/motion sensor technique) for extracting perceived movements from GPS data acquired from cattle. A classification assessment compared observation data of cattle with their corresponding GPS records after filtering by the four techniques. Except for immobile GPS collars in study 1, bias of distance measures was inconsequential for movements ranging from 10 to 90 m (differentially corrected mean bias = 0.18 m +/- 0.12 m SE). When collars were immobile, GPS error generated about 1.7 m +/- 0.7 m SE of perceived travel per record with postdifferentially corrected coordinates (P < 0.05), and 3.9 m +/- 0.8 m SE with uncorrected data. At specific times, post-differential correction failures can affect (P < 0.05) GPS measures of distance. Using any of four proposed techniques, one may effectively filter data sets to remove perceived travel accrued when cattle were resting with 81% to 92% of resting intervals correctly classified. The most effective regression technique suggested cattle travels were overestimated by about 15.2% or 1.15 km daily without filtering. 
    • Grazing Land Reform in New Zealand: Background, Mechanics, and Results

      Brower, Ann (Society for Range Management, 2007-07-01)
      This article briefly reviews a complicated and politically explosive process of land reform on New Zealand’s South Island. It presents the legal and administrative anatomy of the reform, and analyzes the results in light of the statutory goals. Comparing the results to the four goals reveals that the Crown has not defined its first goal and is meeting its goal of economic development, but has achieved only Pyrrhic victories for the conservation and recreation-related goals. The majority of the reformed land has been freed from pastoral constraints, but at a seemingly unnecessary cost to the public of NZ18.2 million. And on a key indicator of conservation, biodiversity protection, the Crown is failing to protect the most critical habitat while successfully protecting the scree and glacier, which require little protection. The New Zealand government has other policy tools available that might prove less expensive to the taxpayers and might yield conservation victories that are less Pyrrhic. Finally, the article concludes that a similar land reform policy idea is not likely to achieve legislative success elsewhere, as interest group opposition would be too intense. 
    • Mapping Mesquite (Prosopis) Distribution and Density Using Visual Aerial Surveys

      Klinken, Rieks D. van; Shepherd, Damian; Parr, Rob; Robinson, Todd P.; Anderson, Linda (Society for Range Management, 2007-07-01)
      Mapping the distribution and abundance of invasive plants is a high priority, but establishing cost-effective and practical techniques at appropriate scales remains elusive. Mesquite is a highly invasive shrub that cannot currently be reliably distinguished from other plant species using remote sensing technologies, at least not at accuracies necessary for mapping mesquite at very low densities. This paper describes and tests an alternative method. A visual, aerial technique was used to map a large mesquite (Leguminoseae: Prosopis spp.) population in Australia; 216 654 ha was surveyed in 18.5-ha grid cells to include the entire population. The objective was to test the ability of this technique to detect and map mesquite at very low densities for surveillance and to assist in prioritizing management effort and, where mesquite was well established, to categorize mesquite into broad canopy cover classes for change detection and to identify habitat associations. The survey technique was very effective at detecting isolated mesquite plants (< 0.6% canopy cover across a grid cell), which is considerably better than existing remote sensing technologies. Detection of low-density mesquite was particularly important, as most occupied grid cells (55%) had isolated mesquite, and their management may offer the best return on investment. The technique was also competitive cost wise (0.39 USD per hectare) and required relatively little expertise. Grid cells with moderate (20%-50%) to dense (. 50%) canopy covers were almost all restricted to a 32 500-ha area on the floodplain delta of the Fortescue River, where the original introductions occurred. Cover class estimates appeared to be well calibrated between observers within a survey; however, they were poorly calibrated between independently conducted surveys, suggesting that further methodological refinement is necessary if this technique is to be reliable for change detection. 
    • Number of Samples Required for Estimating Herbaceous Biomass

      Tsutsumi, Michio; Itano, Shiro; Shiyomi, Misae (Society for Range Management, 2007-07-01)
      Although the precision of herbaceous biomass estimation depends on the sample number, the spatial heterogeneity of the biomass, and sampling procedures, the magnitudes of the influences on the precision have not been clarified. We simulated virtual plant communities based on the gamma distribution to clarify the relationships between the precision of estimating herbaceous biomass and the number of samples, sampling density, spatial heterogeneity of the biomass, and sampling procedures. Using only two parameters, the gamma distribution can approximate the frequency distribution of herbage mass with varying heterogeneity. Our simulations demonstrated that the number of samples is a more influential factor than sampling density on the precision of the herbaceous biomass estimation. Moreover, our simulations confirmed that biomass heterogeneity strongly affected the precision and quantified the magnitude of the influence. When we estimated biomass with random sampling and a 50 X 50 cm quadrat and accepted estimation error of +/- 10% of the mean for a confidence interval of 95%, the numbers of samples needed were 200, 77, and 9 for very, intermediate, and less heterogeneous grasslands, respectively. Similarly, when we estimated biomass with a ranked set sampling (RSS), then 24, 15, and 4 samples were needed in very, intermediate and less heterogeneous grasslands, respectively. We came to two conclusions: 1) In less heterogeneous grasslands, good precision of estimation can be obtained with a small number of samples, and it is useful to employ RSS. The cutting method, as well as nondestructive methods, will be practical; and 2) estimation for heterogeneous grassland requires a large number of samples, and it is not so useful to employ RSS. For that reason, more research is needed on nondestructive methods. 
    • Optimal Sampling Designs for Monitoring Plant Frequency

      Heywood, John S.; DeBacker, Michael D. (Society for Range Management, 2007-07-01)
      Plant frequency is a pragmatic surrogate for plant density in protocols designed for the long-term monitoring of diverse communities. Frequency estimates are based on presence/absence data from plots of fixed size, and plots are usually spatially aggregated into sites (often transects) to reduce field effort. Using a combination of statistical models and computer simulations, we identify sampling designs that maximize statistical power for detecting changes in underlying plant density based on the analysis of plant frequency. The optimal plot size for collecting frequency data decreases both with increasing spatial variation in local density (spatial structure) and with increasing numbers of plots per site. Over realistic ranges for these parameters, plots of optimal size yield mean frequencies that vary from 20% to 80%. However, with the exception of highly overdispersed populations, power is relatively insensitive to plot size; consequently, a plot size that yields a mean frequency of 50% usually provides nearly maximal power. For population monitoring, in which comparisons are made between successive samples from the same population, repeated measures from fixed sites improve statistical power substantially if there is spatial structure among sites, provided that the spatial pattern is at least partially consistent over time. However, there is still a power loss to the extent that the pattern of spatial structure among sites changes over time (a site-by-time interaction). This power loss can be mitigated by increasing the spacing between plots within sites, which has the effect of increasing the within-site structure and reducing the between-site structure. With more than 1 plot per site, there is no statistical advantage to obtaining repeated measures from fixed plots; relocating plots within sites in successive samples may therefore be advisable to minimize disturbance to the community. 
    • Postfire Invasion Potential of Rush Skeletonweed (Chondrilla juncea)

      Kinter, Cecilia Lynn; Mealor, Brian A.; Shaw, Nancy L.; Hild, Ann L. (Society for Range Management, 2007-07-01)
      North American sagebrush steppe communities have been transformed by the introduction of invasive annual grasses and subsequent increase in fire size and frequency. We examined the effects of wildfires and environmental conditions on the ability of rush skeletonweed (Chondrilla juncea L.), a perennial Eurasian composite, to invade degraded sagebrush steppe communities, largely dominated by cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.). Recruitment of rush skeletonweed from seed and root buds was investigated on 11 burned and unburned plot pairs on Idaho’s Snake River Plain following summer 2003 wildfires. Emergence from soil seedbanks was similar on burned and unburned plots in 2003 and 2004 (P = 0.37). Soils from recently burned plots (P = 0.05) and sterilized field soil (P < 0.01) supported greater emergence than did unburned field soils when rush skeletonweed seeds were mixed into the soils in the laboratory. These decreases may indicate susceptibility of this exotic invasive to soil pathogens present in field soils. Seeds in bags placed on field soil in late October 2003 reached peak germination by mid-January 2004 during a wet period; 1% remained viable by August 2004. Seedling emergence from sown plots or the native seedbank and establishment of new rosettes from root sprouts in 2003-2005 indicate that seed germination of rush skeletonweed on the Snake River Plain may be facultative, occurring in fall or spring if soil moisture is adequate, although many germinants may not survive. Stand development results primarily from root sprouting. Establishment from seed is episodic but provides for dispersal, with increasing fire frequency and size expanding the areas of disturbance available for new invasions. 
    • Remote Sensing and the Rancher: Linking Rancher Perception and Remote Sensing

      Rowley, Rex J.; Price, Kevin P.; Kastens, Jude H. (Society for Range Management, 2007-07-01)
      In recent years, steps have been taken to implement a new crop insurance program for rangeland and pasture. Unlike traditionally insured row and cereal crops, which have directly measurable yields, there is no such simple, ideal yield standard for rangeland and pasture because of uncertainties regarding how to generally and objectively quantify annual production. With remotely sensed imagery acquired by the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer transformed to the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), we derived a proxy relative yield measurement for rangeland and pasture vegetation. This proxy measurement could potentially solve a critical component of the yield quantification problem facing implementation of a rangeland insurance program. In order to evaluate this proxy measurement and how ranchers might accept it, we surveyed a group of Kansas and Oklahoma ranchers to determine how their perception of rangeland productivity compared to NDVI- based proxy measurements of rangeland productivity in the surveyed rancher’s county for the growing seasons of 1999-2003. At the scale of the ranch, correlation analysis showed that perception was not highly correlated with the satellite indices. Higher correlations were observed when perception data were aggregated and compared to rangeland indices at the county and study area levels, with performance comparable to using precipitation information. The year with the strongest correlation was the worst drought year of the 5, a desirable outcome in the context of an insurance program. Results from this case study provide some support for using remote sensing data in a national rangeland and pasture insurance program. Such a program would be an important new risk mitigation tool for ranchers. 
    • Revegetating Russian Knapweed (Acroptilon repens) Infestations Using Morphologically Diverse Species and Seedbed Preparation

      Mangold, Jane M.; Poulsen, Clare L.; Carpinelli, Michael F. (Society for Range Management, 2007-07-01)
      Highly degraded pastures and rangeland dominated by Russian knapweed (Acroptilon repens [L.] DC) are often devoid of desirable plants. Control efforts may be ephemeral because propagules of desirable species are not available to reoccupy niches made available by control procedures. Establishing desirable, competitive plants is essential for enduring management and restoration of Russian knapweed and other weed-infested plant communities. The objective of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of revegetating Russian knapweed-infested pastures with 3 nonnative, morphologically diverse species following 1 of 3 seedbed preparation treatments. In successive years, at 2 similar sites in southeastern Oregon, we sprayed Russian knapweed with glyphosate, then prepared the seedbed by burning, tilling, or leaving untreated. Following seedbed preparation, we seeded a perennial forb (alfalfa [Medicago sativa L.]), a bunchgrass (Siberian wheatgrass [Agropyron fragile {Roth} P. Candargy subsp. sibericum {Willd.} Melderis]), and a sod-forming grass (pubescent wheatgrass [Elytrigia intermedia {Host} Nevski subsp. trichophora {Link} Tvzel]) in monocultures and 2- and 3-species mixtures. We measured Russian knapweed and seeded-species density 1 and 2 years following seeding. The forb-seeding treatment decreased reinvasion of Russia knapweed by 50%-60% at 1 site, but otherwise, seeding treatment had little influence on total seeded-species density or Russian knapweed density. Tilling generally resulted in a 35%-40% reduction in Russian knapweed density compared with the control and resulted in the highest establishment of seeded species. Variability in annual precipitation appeared to influence seeded-species establishment between the sites. Our results suggest shallow tilling (10-15 cm) followed by drill-seeding desirable forbs and grasses may provide the best results when revegetating Russian knapweed infestations. Follow-up management should include strategies to enhance desirable species production while minimizing Russian knapweed reinvasion. 
    • Seed Germination Strategies of Desmostachya bipinnata: A Fodder Crop for Saline Soils

      Gulzar, Salman; Khan, M. A.; Liu, Xiaojing (Society for Range Management, 2007-07-01)
      Desmostachya bipinnata (L.) Stapf. (Poaceae), or drub, a perennial grass of near-coastal and inland deserts, is a potential fodder crop for either saline soils or where only brackish water is available for irrigation. The responses of D. bipinnata seeds under various salinity (0, 100, 200, 300, 400, and 500 mM NaCl), temperature (10 degrees-20 degrees, 15 degrees-25 degrees, 20-30 degrees, and 25 degrees-35 degreesC) and light (12:12-h dark:light and 24-h dark) regimes were investigated. All seeds germinated under nonsaline conditions, however, increase in salinity resulted in a progressive decrease in germination, and few seeds germinated at 500 mM NaCl. Change in temperature had little effect on seed germination under nonsaline conditions, however, seed germination was inhibited under cooler saline conditions. The germination under saline conditions improved at warmer temperature regimes. Seed germination under nonsaline control in dark was similar to those of seeds germinated in light. However, at high salinities, seed germination was substantially inhibited in dark in comparison to those germinated in light. When ungerminated seeds were transferred to distilled water they germinated immediately, and those from higher salinity and temperature regimes had higher recovery. The ability of seeds to germinate over a range of salinity and temperature regimes suggests possibilities for sustainable use of this species as a cash crop in saline soils. 
    • Social Associations and Dominance of Individuals in Small Herds of Cattle

      Harris, Norman; Johnson, Douglas E.; McDougald, Neil K.; George, Melvin R. (Society for Range Management, 2007-07-01)
      A series of 6 daylight observations was made each summer and again each winter over 2 years to map cattle distribution on a California foothill pasture. Sixty animals were used in the study with no animals appearing in > 1 observation series. During daylight hours, small herds of cows containing between 14 and 16 animals were scan-sampled and videotaped every 15 minutes. A global positioning system was used to record the position of the camera to aid in accurately locating individual animals. Animal locations and individual identifications were then entered into a geographic information system (GIS) by on-screen digitizing using color orthophotographs. Animal positions were determined to be within 5 m of their true location. Association software, ASSOC1, was used to analyze animal positions to determine cattle subgroups and herd units. This position-based grouping was compared with observation-based grouping by researchers. Direct observation also identified dominant herd members. Older animals, up to 16 years of age, were generally dominant over younger animals, and subgroups tended to be composed of animals of similar age. The size of naturally occurring subgroups was between 3 and 6 animals. Some animals exhibited independence in their actions and behaviors compared with subgroup members. ASSOC1 produced grouping results consistent with direct observations. However, accurate interpretation of the ASSOC1 results depended on direct observational data. ASSOC1 identified close association patterns in 3 of the observations that defined the dominant animals in the herd. Forage availability and thermoregulatory needs influenced the distance between associated subgroup members. Distance between animals decreased when animals sought shade in summer or shelter in winter. Computer analysis of spatial data from GPS collars may be able to determine the social structure and identify dominant animals in herd situations. Incorporating knowledge of cattle social behavior should improve management of cattle on the range.
    • The Spatial Patterns of Functional Groups and Successional Direction in a Coastal Dune Community

      Feagin, Rusty A.; Wu, X. Ben (Society for Range Management, 2007-07-01)
      Various methods have been devised to classify plants into functional groups, yet little work has investigated how these groups differentially impact succession with spatially explicit mechanisms. In a sand dune plant community on Galveston Island, Texas, we categorized plants by their functional traits, mapped the topographical contours of the sand dunes as a first-order effect to describe the spatial distribution of environmental stress, and quantified the second-order within- and between-group associations of the plants within specific bands of these contours using Ripley’s K analysis. We then quantified the influence of spatially explicit functional traits on the direction of succession over time. We found evidence that the spatial pattern of the plants at one time exerted an influence on the pattern of the plants at a later time, based on their functional traits, thereby influencing the direction of sand dune succession. This study describes the spatiotemporal mechanics that lie behind sand dune plant succession: a process that has been a classical example of facilitation for ecologists, a plant community that is at risk from global sea-level rise and hurricanes, and an important rangeland resource that is being restored around the world for its ecological, range production, and coastal protection value. 
    • Toxic Alkaloid Concentrations in Delphinium nuttallianum, Delphinium andersonii, and Delphinium geyeri in the Intermountain Region

      Gardner, Dale R.; Pfister, James A. (Society for Range Management, 2007-07-01)
      Low larkspurs (Delphinium nuttalliunum Pritz., Delphinium andersonii Gray) and plains larkspur (Delphinium geyeri Greene) often poison cattle grazing on western North American rangelands. The dominant toxic alkaloid in larkspur is methyllycaconitine (MLA); other very toxic alkaloids in low and plains larkspurs are nudicauline and geyerline. Toxic alkaloid concentrations in larkspur near or above 3 mg g-1 present significant risk to grazing cattle. D. nuttallianum from Utah and Colorado, D. andersonii from northern Arizona, and plains larkspur (D. geyeri) from Wyoming were collected for analysis. Concentrations of MLA in D. nuttallianum ranged from 0.8 to 4.5 mg g-1 in Utah and Colorado; total toxic alkaloid concentrations were often above 3 mg g-1. D. nuttallianum differed (P = 0.09) in MLA concentration between locations but not phenological stages (P = 0.41). Concentrations of nudicauline ranged from 0.7 to 4 mg g-1 in D. nuttallianum and were different (P = 0.01) between locations and phenological stages (P = 0.004). D. andersonii was consistently toxic because the total toxic alkaloid concentration fluctuated from 3 to 6 mg g-1 over the growing season. The concentration of geyerline in D. andersonii was equal to or greater than MLA at each phenological stage, thus adding to the toxicity. The concentration of toxic alkaloids in D. geyeri was typically highest (2-4 mg g-1) in immature plants, although toxic alkaloid concentrations in plants during the pod stage of growth sometimes increased. Only trace amounts of nudicauline were found in D. geyeri, as most of the alkaloid fraction was other N-(methylsuccinimido) anthranoyllycoctonine (MSAL) alkaloids. Total alkaloid concentration (MSAL and non-MSAL alkaloids) in D. geyeri sometimes exceeded 15 mg g-1. Concentrations of toxic alkaloids in D. nuttalliunum, D. andersonii, and D. geyeri often did not significantly decline during the growing season as typically found in tall larkspurs. Thus, risk to grazing cattle may remain high until these plants are dormant.