• A proposed method for determining shrub utilization using (LA/LS) imagery

      Quilter, M. C.; Anderson, V. J. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Utilization of plant above ground biomass has continued to be a critical yet difficult assessment in rangeland monitoring. Shrub size and woody structure further compound the measurement of shrub biomass utilization. This study was designed to determine the potential utility of low altitude/large scale (LA/LS) imagery in assessing shrub utilization. A near monoculture of Ceriotoides lanata (Pursh) J.T. Howell (winterfat) located in the western desert shrubland of Utah was used to evaluate this technique. Four, 3.1 by 3.1 m plots were identified and the shrubs within the plots were defoliated by hand-picking at about 10% intervals with imagery of the plots obtained between pickings. Imagery was obtained using a radio controlled airplane (drone) fitted with a 35 mm camera. Images were evaluated using image processing software and the resulting reflectance data correlated with defoliation percentages (weight basis) for each plot. Reflectance data from images correlated highly with defoliation percentages (r2 > 0.9). This technique of using LA/LS imagery shows promise for a quick and accurate tool in assessing utilization of shrubs.
    • Carbon and nitrogen dynamics in elk winter ranges

      Menezes, R. S. C.; Elliott, E. T.; Valentine, D. W.; Williams, S. A. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Recent increases in elk (Cervus elaphus L.) herbivory and changes in hydrology towards drier conditions have contributed to declines in willow (Salix spp. L.) communities in the winter ranges for elk in Rocky Mountain National Park. In 1994, we constructed 12 large elk exclosures in 2 watersheds of the winter range for elk in the park, and conducted field experiments from 1995 to 1999 to investigate the effects of herbivory and proximity to surface water on the dynamics of C and N. Litterfall biomass averaged 65.6 and 33.0 g m(-2) inside and outside the exclosures, respectively. Elk herbivory increased (P < 0.05) N concentration of willow litter from 1.25 to 1.49%, but there were no differences in losses of C and N from litterbags placed in grazed and ungrazed plots in any of the growing seasons. Carbon losses from litterbags were higher in lower landscape positions (P = 0.001), in comparison to upper landscape positions. Shoot biomass of willow plants fertilized with N averaged 27.3 g and was higher (P < 0.05) than that of unfertilized plants, which averaged 20.2 g, indicating that N availability limits plant growth in our study sites. Elk herbivory had no effect on soil inorganic N availability, even though we estimated that the return of N to the soil in grazed plots could be as much as 265% of the N return in exclosed plots. In the long-term, greater return of N to the soil combined with increased litter quality in the grazed plots could contribute to increases in N cycling rates and availability, and these changes could affect ecosystem structure and function in the winter range for elk in Rocky Mountain National Park.
    • Low density of prickly acacia under sheep grazing in Queensland

      Tiver, F.; Nicholas, M.; Kriticos, D.; Brown, J. R. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Populations of an introduced woody weed, prickly acacia (Acacia nilotica (L.) Delile ssp. indica (Benth.) Brenan syn. Acacia arabica (Lam.) Willd. ssp. indica Benth.), were surveyed at 4 sites in central Queensland. There is a significantly lower frequency of plants of 3 m in height within populations which have been grazed by sheep, indicating that browsing by sheep reduces regeneration. There were higher losses of seedlings at a sheep-grazed site than at cattle-grazed sites. These results support previous assertions that prickly acacia is regenerating more successfully on cattle properties, because cattle both disperse seeds and are less effective herbivores. In regions of low annual rainfall, prickly acacia is capable of forming dense stands (up to 2,700 shrubs ha(-1)) in lowland landscape types. Stands are less dense in upland landscapes (maximum of 718 shrubs ha(-1)). Of most concern is that in regions of high annual rainfall prickly acacia can form extremely dense thickets across most landscape types (up to 3,400 shrubs ha(-1)). We suggest that prickly acacia is most likely to become a management problem on cattle properties, and an extreme problem in high annual rainfall areas. The inclusion of sheep in livestock rotations may be an effective control measure in the Mitchell Grasslands, but this may not always be possible. A high priority is to prevent prickly acacia from expanding its range into equivalent high rainfall areas within Queensland, and also in the Northern Territory, northern New South Wales, and Western Australia. This could be achieved by quarantining livestock which have come from infested properties until seeds have passed through the digestive tract, after about 6 days. Management strategies at the property level should aim to prevent further spread of prickly acacia by controlling cattle movements between paddocks during periods when cattle are ingesting pods and seeds.