• Vegetation Change After 65 Years of Grazing and Grazing Exclusion

      Courtois, Danielle R.; Perryman, Barry L.; Hussein, Hussein S. (Society for Range Management, 2004-11-01)
      The Nevada Plots exclosure system was constructed in 1937 following passage of the Taylor Grazing Act to assess long-term effects of livestock grazing on Nevada rangelands. A comparison of vegetation characteristics inside and outside exclosures was conducted during 2001 and 2002 at 16 sites. Data analysis was performed with a paired t test. Out of 238 cover and density comparisons between inside and outside exclosures at each site, 34 (14% of total) were different (P 0.05). Generally, where differences occurred, basal and canopy cover were greater inside exclosures and density was greater outside. Shrubs were taller inside exclosures at 3 sites grazed by sheep (Ovis aries). Perennial grasses showed no vertical height difference. Aboveground plant biomass production was different at only 1 site. Plant community diversity inside and outside exclosures were equal at 11 of 16 sites. Species richness was similar at all sites and never varied 4 species at any site. Few changes in species composition, cover, density, and production inside and outside exclosures have occurred in 65 years, indicating that recovery rates since pre-Taylor Grazing Act conditions were similar under moderate grazing and grazing exclusion on these exclosure sites.
    • Viewpoint: The Need for Qualitative Research to Understand Ranch Management

      Sayre, Nathan F. (Society for Range Management, 2004-11-01)
      The use and management of rangelands involves both ecological and social processes, and it is in the interaction of these that conservation is or is not achieved. Overall, the ecological dimensions of rangelands and rangeland management have been studied in greater detail and are better understood than the social dimensions. This paper argues that qualitative methods are necessary to understand the management of rangelands by ranchers. Existing studies using quantitative methods have found little correlation between ranchers' management practices and a variety of social factors. One consistent finding of these studies, however, is that profit is a secondary or insignificant motivation among ranchers, casting doubt on the premise that economic self-interest motivates ranchers to embrace improved management practices. The theoretical and methodological implications of this finding have not been adequately recognized in rangeland science. With its greater flexibility and attention to context, qualitative research can reveal social, historical, political, and economic factors that affect ranch management but have eluded quantitative studies. In addition, qualitative methods are better suited to capturing both the processes that generate ranchers' “mental models” and the historical information needed in light of recent theoretical advances in rangeland ecology. Suggestions for future research on ranch management include conducting case studies of smaller areas over longer temporal periods, focusing on interactions among ranchers, giving ranchers a greater role in identifying research needs, studying urbanization and other “new” rangeland issues, and drawing on research about pastoralist societies elsewhere.