• Remote sensing for cover change assessment in southeast Arizona

      Wallace, O. C.; Qi, J.; Heilma, P.; Marsett, R. C. (Society for Range Management, 2003-09-01)
      Understanding landscape conversion is vital for assessing the impacts of ecological and anthropogenic disturbances at regional and global scales. Since rangelands cover nearly half of the global land surface, and because a large part of rangelands is located in semi-arid ecosystems, they serve as critical land cover types for determining regional biodiversity, global biogeochemical cycles, and energy and gas fluxes. For such vast ecosystems, satellite imagery is often used to inventory biophysical materials and man-made features on Earth's surface. The large area coverage and frequent acquisition cycle of remotely sensed satellite images make earth observation data useful for monitoring land conversion rates at different spatial scales. Remote sensing could also be used for temporal assessment of semi-arid ecosystems by providing complimentary sets of rangeland health indicators. In this paper, temporal satellite data from multiple sensors were examined to quantify land use and land cover change, and to relate spatial configuration and composition to landscape structure and pattern. The findings were correlated with the role of fire to better understand ecological functionality and human and/or natural activities that are generating environmental stressors in a rapidly developing, semi-urban census division located in southeastern Arizona. Results indicate that conversion of a fire-suppressed native grassland area has 2 spatial components; in the rural areas, grass is being eliminated by increasingly homogeneous shrub and mesquite-dominated areas, whereas in the urban and suburban areas, grass as well shrubs and mesquite are being eliminated by a fragmented and expanding built landscape.
    • Research observation: Hydrolyzable and condensed tannins in plants of northwest Spain forests

      González-Hernández, M. P.; Karchesy, J.; Starkey, E. E. (Society for Range Management, 2003-09-01)
      Tannins are secondary metabolites that may influence feeding by mammals on plants. We analyzed hydrolyzable and condensed tannins in 30 plant species consumed by livestock and deer, as a preliminary attempt to study their possible implications on browsing and grazing in forest ecosystems. Heathers (Ericaceae) and plants of the Rose (Rosaceae) family had tannins, while forbs, grasses and shrubs other than the heathers did not show astringency properties. We found the highest tannin content of all the species in Rubus sp., with the highest value around 180 mg TAE/g dry weight in spring. Potentilla erecta, Alnus glutinosa and Quercus robur were next with 57 to 44 mg TAE/g dw. Total tannins in heathers ranged from 22 to 36 mg TAE/g dw. Levels of condensed tannins were higher than hydrolyzable for most of the species. Only Betula alba, Calluna vulgaris, Pteridium aquilinum and Vaccinium myrtillus had 100% hydrolyzable tannins. Tannin content of the species changed seasonally with highest values during the growing season, corresponding to late winter or early spring, depending on the species.
    • Saltcedar recovery after herbicide-burn and mechanical clearing practices

      McDaniel, K. C.; Taylor, J. P. (Society for Range Management, 2003-09-01)
      Mechanical clearing and herbicide-burn treatments were compared to evaluate saltcedar (Tamarix chinensis Lour.) control and recovery along the Rio Grande on the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro, N.M. The herbicide-burn treatment included an aerial application of imazapyr (+)-2-[4,5-dihydro-4-methyl-4-(1-methylethyl)-5-oxo-1H-imidazol-2-yl]-3-pyridinecarboxylic acid] + glyphosate [N-(phosphono-methyl)glycine] (0.6 + 0.6 kg ai ha-1 rate) followed 3 years later by a prescription broadcast fire that eliminated > 99% of the standing dead stems. Six years after initial herbicide application, saltcedar mortality was 93%. Mechanical saltcedar clearing entailed removing aerial (trunks and stems) growth by blading, stacking and burning debris, followed by removal of underground plant portions (root crowns) by plowing, raking, and burning stacked material. Saltcedar mortality 3 years after mechanical clearing averaged 70%, which was deemed unsatisfactory. Thus, root plowing, raking, and pile burning was repeated. Three years later, after the second mechanical clearing, saltcedar mortality was 97%. Costs for the herbicide-burn treatment averaged 283 ha-1, whereas mechanical control costs were 884 ha-1 for the first surface and root clearing and an additional 585 ha-1 for the second root clearing. Riparian managers should consider environmental conditions and restoration strategies prior to selecting a saltcedar control approach. Although control costs were significantly lower for the herbicide-burn treatment compared to mechanical clearing in this study, the choice of methods should always consider alternative control strategies for saltcedar. Frequently, combinations of methods result in more efficient, cost-effective results.
    • Seed germination of willow species from a desert riparian ecosystem

      Young, J. A.; Clements, C. D. (Society for Range Management, 2003-09-01)
      The restoration of riverine riparian areas following mechanical, herbicidal, or biological control of the invasive species tamarisk (Tamarix ramosissima Ledeb.) is a major issue in the western United States. Recruitment of seedlings of native woody species is necessary in these restoration efforts. Species of willow (Salix) are often considered essential in these efforts. We studied the germination of seeds of tree willow (Salix lutea Nutt.) and coyote willow (S. exigua Nutt.) at a wide range of constant or alternating incubation temperatures. Seeds were collected from native stands in the delta of the Walker River in western Nevada over a 3 year period. Seed germination was very similar for both species. On 2 of the 3 years of testing the seeds had 100% germination at some incubation temperatures and some germination over almost all of the 55 temperature regimes used in the experiments. A late frost in May of 2000 markedly reduced total germination of both species, but did not greatly restrict the temperature regimes where some germination occurred. Optimum germination, defined as that not lower than the maximum observed minus one half the confidence interval at the 0.01 level of probability, occurred over a very wide range of temperatures, but for tree willow only the temperature regimes 15/25 (15 degrees C for 12 hours and 25 degrees C for 8 hours in each 24 hour period) and 15/30 degrees C always supported optimum germination. No temperature regime always supported optimum germination of coyote willow seeds, but the most frequent optima tended to be at lower temperatures than for tree willow. Because of the similarity in germination responses and overlapping phenology, seeds of these 2 species probably compete for germination safesites.
    • Spatial and temporal patterns of cattle feces deposition on rangeland

      Tate, K. W.; Atwill, E. R.; McDougald, N. K.; George, M. R. (Society for Range Management, 2003-09-01)
      The objective of this study was to identify and model environmental and management factors associated with cattle feces deposition patterns across annual rangeland watersheds in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Daily cattle fecal load accumulation rates were calculated from seasonal fecal loads measured biannually on 40 m2 permanent transects distributed across a 150.5 ha pasture in Madera County, Calif. during the 4 year period from 1995 through 1998. Associations between daily fecal load per season, livestock management, and environmental factors measured for each transect were determined using a linear mixed effects model. Cattle feces distribution patterns were significantly associated with location of livestock attractants, slope percentage, slope aspect, hydrologic position, and season. Transects located in livestock concentration areas experienced a significantly higher daily fecal load compared to transects outside of these concentration areas (P < 0.001). Percent slope was negatively associated with daily fecal load, but this association had a significant interaction with slope aspect (P = 0.02). Daily fecal load was significantly lower during the wet season compared to the dry season (P = 0.002). Daily fecal loading rates across hydrologic positions were dependent upon season. Our results illustrate the opportunities to reduce the risk of water quality contamination by strategic placement of cattle attractants, and provide a means to predict cattle feces deposition based upon inherent watershed characteristics and management factors.
    • Water, nitrogen and ploidy effects on Russian wildrye mineral concentrations

      Karn, J. F.; Frank, A. B.; Berdahl, J. D.; Poland, W. W. (Society for Range Management, 2003-09-01)
      High quality forage for spring and autumn grazing can be obtained from Russian wildrye [Psathyrostachys juncea (Fisch.) Nevski], a cool-season bunchgrass. However, little is known about mineral concentrations critical to livestock production, especially in the relatively new tetraploid plants. A knowledge of plant mineral concentrations and how they can be manipulated to more nearly meet animal requirements is necessary to optimize animal production. A study was undertaken to determine the extent that concentrations of critical minerals in leaf and stem tissue of Russian wildrye were affected by ploidy level, growing-season water (50 and 150% of average), and N fertilizer (10 and 134 kg N ha-1). Plants were sampled at vegetative, boot, anthesis, and anthesis plus 10-day stages of maturity in 1994, 1995, and 1996. Ploidy level resulted in small but significant differences in some mineral concentrations, with diploid plants usually having higher levels. An exception was P in stem tissue. This finding indicates that in breeding and selection for other traits, forage quality was not adversely affected. Growing-season water level also had minimal effects on mineral concentrations, except for P which was enhanced (P < 0.05) by greater amounts of soil water. Fertilizer N increased forage levels of Ca, K, Cu, and Zn, and decreased levels of P. Higher concentrations of K are not desirable, because they increase the possibility of a grass tetany problem. Advancing plant maturity caused a decrease in P and Zn concentrations, but Ca and Mg in leaf tissue increased as plants matured. These results suggest that concentrations of P, Ca, Mg, and Cu were marginal for high producing cattle at some stages of maturity, but we found the effects of nitrogen and growing-season water did not result in leaf and stem mineral concentration changes that would adversely affect the safety and nutritive quality of Russian wildrye.
    • Wyoming big sagebrush seed production from mined and unmined rangelands

      Booth, D. T.; Bai, Y.; Roos, E. E. (Society for Range Management, 2003-09-01)
      Wyoming Coal Rules and Regulations require shrubs be returned to mined land and that revegetation "...be self renewing." We evaluated seed production and seed quality of Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt. ssp. wyomingensis (Beetle Young)) by measuring the effect of mining, herbivory, and environmental modification on seed production at 5 sites on the Dave Johnston Coal Mine near Glenrock, Wyo. Mined-land stands ranged in age from 5 to >20 years. Single sagebrush plants on mined, and adjacent unmined land were treated by: (1) fabric mulch around the base, (2) windbreak on the north and west, (3) both mulch and windbreak, and (4) neither windbreak nor mulch. Plants were fenced and compared with unfenced, untreated, neighboring plants. Seeds were harvested for 3 years and data were collected on seed-stalk numbers, bulk weight of seeds produced, and seed quality. Fenced mined-land plants produced several times more seeds than fenced plants on adjacent unmined land. There was no difference in seed quality. Treatments to modify the plant environment resulted in some benefits but fencing had a greater effect on seed-quality parameters than did planned treatments. We conclude the sagebrush seed-production potential on reclaimed lands such as those of the Dave Johnston Coal Mine is equal to, and often several times greater than that of adjacent unmined lands. However, browsing by wild ungulates can eliminate the mined-land yield advantage.