• Usable Science for Managing Animals and Rangeland Sustainability

      Meiman, Paul J.; Tolleson, Doug R.; Johnson, Theodora; Echols, Alex; Price, Frank; Stackhouse-Lawson, Kim (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground: • Animals are critical components of rangeland ecosystems, and domestic livestock provide an extremely important management tool on rangelands. • Decades of research have yielded much valuable information to support sustainable and effective grazing management, but increased complexity resulting in part from expanding environmental, economic, and societal pressures demands future investments in usable science focused on rangeland animals. • Three priorities for usable science are recommended: • Proactive drought planning • Better matching livestock production systems to rangeland resources • Comprehensive synthesis of and effective communication concerning environmental impacts (positive, negative, and neutral) of livestock on rangelands.
    • Evaluating New SMAP Soil Moisture for Drought Monitoring in the Rangelands of the US High Plains

      Velpuri, Naga Manohar; Senay, Gabriel B.; Morisette, Jeffrey T. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Level 3 soil moisture datasets from the recently launched Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite are evaluated for drought monitoring in rangelands. • Validation of SMAP soil moisture (SSM) with in situ and modeled estimates showed high level of agreement. • SSM showed the highest correlation with surface soil moisture (0-5 cm) and a strong correlation to depths up to 20 cm. • SSM showed a reliable and expected response of capturing seasonal dynamics in relation to precipitation, land surface temperature, and evapotranspiration. • Further evaluation using multi-year SMAP datasets is necessary to quantify the full benefits and limitations for drought monitoring in rangelands.
    • Tapping Soil Survey Information for Rapid Assessment of Sagebrush Ecosystem Resilience and Resistance

      Maestas, Jeremy D.; Campbell, Steven B.; Chambers, Jeanne C.; Pellant, Mike; Miller, Richard F. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Emerging applications of ecosystem resilience and resistance concepts in sagebrush ecosystems allow managers to better predict and mitigate impacts of wildfire and invasive annual grasses. • Widely available soil survey information can be harnessed to spatially depict and evaluate relative resilience and resistance from regional to site scales. • New products and tools illustrate how managers can use soils data to inform rapid risk assessments, determine appropriate management strategies, and prioritize resources to maintain and restore functioning sagebrush ecosystems.
    • Bison Weights From National Parks in the Northern Great Plains

      Licht, Daniel S. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Female bison at three Northern Great Plains parks reached maximum size at 5.5 years of age. Male bison reached maximum size around 10.5 years of age. • The mean weight for females 5.5 years old and older was 473 kg, and for males 10.5 years old and older was 816 kg. The mean weight for yearling females was 307 kg, and for yearling males was 325 kg. • There were significant differences in bison weights between the three parks even though the herds were all stocked well below the forage-based carrying capacity. • Heavier calves and yearlings tended to be heavier adults; however, there was much variability among individuals. • Accurate and unambiguous data on bison weights can be used to set stocking rates and make other management decisions and therefore should be collected whenever possible.
    • From Grassroots to National Alliance: The Emerging Trajectory for Landowner Prescribed Burn Associations

      Weir, John R.; Twidwell, Dirac; Wonkka, Carissa L. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Due to woody plant encroachment and seeing the need for fire on their lands, private landowners throughout the southern Great Plains have started forming prescribed burn associations (PBA) to assist each other with conducting prescribed fires. • Members of PBAs work together by pooling equipment and other resources, organizing training opportunities, and assisting with prescribed burns on each other’s properties, while teaching upcoming generations and inexperienced members the value of fire in grassland conservation and how to safely use it. • There are over 50 PBAs working in the southern Great Plains. As the number of PBAs has grown so has the need for bringing these groups together. Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas have formed statewide PBAs to assist and promote the local PBAs. • As PBAs have grown in number, there is now a clear opportunity to develop an organized network of PBAs at the local, state, and national levels that can address cross-scale ecological and jurisdictional challenges limiting their effectiveness.
    • Determining Rangeland Species Palatability: Application of Principal Component Analysis

      Raufirad, Valiollah; Azadi, Hossein; Ebrahimi, Ataollah; Bagheri, Setareh (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Since plant palatability affects many aspects of sustainable rangeland management, including grazing capacity and grazing behavior, introducing indicators for determining rangeland species palatability can help rangeland managers determine rangeland species palatability accurately and precisely. • The Karsanak rangelands in the Chaharmahal-V-Bakhtiari province in Iran are dominated by a mixture of patchily distributed grasses, forbs, and shrubs, with a high biodiversity of plants, which severely affects rangeland species palatability. • The use of forage quality, secondary compounds, and external plant attributes are expected to help rangeland managers with plant palatability classification and in determining grazing capacity to achieve sustainable rangeland management.
    • Marginality, Climate and Resources in Pastoral Rangelands: Oman and Mongolia

      Sternberg, Troy; Chatty, Dawn (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Oman and Mongolia feature different political systems and physical landscapes yet represent similar challenges encountered across global pastoral societies. • Extractive industries disrupt pastoral drylands through reorienting government policy, environmental change, altered water supply, and infrastructure factors that challenge livelihood viability. • The impact of climate variability on rangeland livelihoods is now exacerbated by policy and development decisions. • Herder livelihoods at different income and development levels are dependent on government policy and risk mitigation strategies to maintain customary practices. • The combination of multiple external forces stress rural viability and contribute to out-migration from herding systems.
    • Browsing the Literature

      Mosley, Jeff (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
    • Special Issue Acknowledgments

      Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01
    • Droughts and Wildfires in Western U.S. Rangelands

      Scasta, John Derek; Weir, John R.; Stambaugh, Michael C. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Because fire activity fluctuates with short- and long-term term weather and climate trends, understanding trends relative to climate forecasts is critical to mitigating the loss of life and property and rapid vegetation state changes. • Through the analysis of charcoal and trees scars, historical droughts and fire patterns can be quantified retrospectively for hundreds of years. This evidence suggests that generally fire was most frequent during warm-dry periods as opposed to cool-moist periods. However, arid regions may see an increase of fire activity with an increase of moisture due to inherent fuel load limitations. • Using federal wildfire and weather data from 2002 to 2015 for New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, we demonstrate that the worst wildfire activity occurred after average or above average precipitation years followed by drought in Oklahoma and Wyoming. Nevada wildfire activity was correlated with precipitation the preceding year, and New Mexico wildfire activity was not correlated with annual precipitation or preceding year precipitation. • The effects of future drought on fire intensity and severity are projected to be highly variable because they are both a function of fuel load. However, the potential for very large wildfires is predicted to increase; fire weather is expected to create hotter and drier conditions that start earlier and last longer; and the relative changes may be most noticeable in cooler regions that are of higher latitude and elevation.
    • Drought Mitigation for Grazing Operations: Matching the Animal to the Environment

      Scasta, John Derek; Lalman, David L.; Henderson, Leticia (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • With expected increases in drought frequency and severity, long-term drought management strategies that focus on cattle selection and natural resource management are essential. • The livestock industry in general unintentionally tends to select for cattle that do not perform to their maximum potential in limited-resource environments. We discuss the implications of cattle selection based on characteristics such as genetic potential, cow size, and hide color. • In a hypothetical model, we found that because forage requirements for smaller cows are lower than forage requirements for larger cows, using a herd of smaller cows produces a larger total calf crop if cow size and milk do not lead to greater calf production. • Because grazed forage remains the least expensive source of nutrients to maintain the cow herd, matching cow size and milk production potential to forage resources to optimize forage utilization and reproductive efficiency should be considered a rangeland drought mitigation strategy. • Contemporary strategies such as using EPDs and selection indexes to manage maternal traits such as mature weight and maintenance energy requirements can be integrated with conventional drought mitigation strategies that focus on resource quality management.
    • Adaptive Management for Drought on Rangelands

      Derner, Justin D.; Augustine, David J. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Adaptive management can be used to manage complexity, such as how to match forage production variability across years and within portions of a grazing season with animal demand through management flexibility. • Adaptive management strategies should incorporate flexibility and feedback mechanisms informed by appropriate seasonal weather variables and monitoring metrics to both increase resiliency of rangeland ecosystems and reduce risk for the ranching enterprise associated with drought. • For management flexibility, we provide four general strategies that ranchers can use to deal with drought: 1) predict it using weather and climate forecasting tools, 2) track it, 3) employ conservative stocking rates, and 4) utilize inherent spatial variability. • Adaptive grazing management plans that seek to integrate drought prediction tools, conservative but flexible stocking, and existing and predicted spatial heterogeneity in forage quantity and quality can be incorporated into conservation practices where spatial heterogeneity in forage resources within and among allotments/pastures is often not explicitly monitored or considered when planning livestock movements.
    • View Point: Critical Evaluations of Vegetation Cover Measurement Techniques: A Response to Thacker et al. (2015)

      Karl, Jason W.; Karl, Michael G.; McCord, Sarah E.; Kachergis, Emily (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Method comparison studies are necessary to reconcile monitoring methods that have arisen among disparate programs; however, we find that Thacker et al.s study comparing Daubenmire frame (DF) and line-point intercept (LPI) methods for estimating vegetation cover is not adequate to support their conclusions. • Because the DF and LPI methods estimate different aspects of vegetation cover (total canopy vs. foliar cover), there should be no a priori expectation that the two techniques would produce the same results. • Thacker et al. omit critical information about their methods (sampling design, training and calibration, indicator calculations) that could have a large impact on their results and how they can be interpreted. • Differences in results between different vegetation cover measurement techniques can also be attributable to factors like observer training and calibration, plot heterogeneity and complexity, spatial distribution of vegetation, plant morphology, and plot size; thus it is difficult to draw strong conclusions froma single study. • Rather than implementing both DF and LPI techniques in sage-grouse studies as Thacker et al. recommend, effort should instead be invested in ensuring that sampling for one selected method is adequate. • Critical evaluations of vegetation measurement methods to advance the science of rangeland monitoring should be conducted and reported in a rigorous manner, provide a thorough review of previous studies, and discuss how new results contribute to existing knowledge.
    • Temperament Affects Rangeland Use Patterns and Reproductive Performance of Beef Cows

      Goodman, Laura E.; Cibils, Andres F.; Wesley, Robert L.; Mulliniks, Travis; Petersen, Mark K.; Scholljegerdes, Eric J.; Cox, Shad H. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • The American beef industry is paying more attention to cattle temperament, but studies examining relationships between temperaments and grazing behavior or animal performance on rangelands are limited. • We studied range beef cow temperaments using the behavioral syndromes framework. Cows classified into behavioral type groups on the basis of a suite of correlated behaviors showed contrasting rangeland use patterns and different reproductive efficiency. These differences resulted in temperament-related culling rates over time. • We argue that the behavioral syndromes conceptual framework could be a valuable tool to advance current understanding about how cattle temperaments are related to grazing patterns and animal performance on rangeland.
    • Quaking Aspen in Utah: Integrating Recent Science with Management

      Rogers, Paul C.; St. Clair, Samuel B. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Quaking aspen is widely regarded as a key resource for humans, livestock, and wildlife with these values often competing with each other, leading to overuse of aspen in some locations and declines. • Wereview trends in aspen science and management, particularly in Utah. Historically, research conducted here holds a prestigious place in international aspen circles. • We highlight recent studies continuing the tradition to keep rangeland managers informed of important developments, focusing on aspen functional types, historical cover change and climate warming, ungulate herbivory, and disturbance interactions.
    • Case Study: Applying Ecological Site Concepts to Adaptive Conservation Management on an Iconic Californian Landscape

      Spiegal, Sheri; Bartolome, James W.; White, Michael D. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Managers of large landscapes with limited financial resources can use ecological sites and state-and-transition models to identify landscape divisions with the highest chances of responding favorably to management activities. • This conceptual framework can help determine the optimal configuration of pastures and water developments so that conservation-focused grazing and response monitoring align with focal landscape divisions. • As communication tools, these models can help conservation land managers and graziers to better understand how the variation in landscapes affects the distribution of conservation targets and the specific locations where management can be tailored to enhance biodiversity.
    • Case Study: Disturbance Response Grouping of Ecological Sites Increases Utility of Ecological Sites and State-and-Transition Models for Landscape Scale Planning in the Great Basin

      Stringham, Tamzen K.; Novak-Echenique, Patti; Snyder, Devon K.; Peterson, Sarah; Snyder, Keirith A. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Ecological sites often occur at scales too small for application in planning large-scale vegetation treatments or post-fire rehabilitation. • Disturbance Response Groups (DRGs) are used to scale up ecological sites by grouping ecological sites based on their responses to disturbances. • A state-and-transition model (STM) is created for the DRG and refined through field investigations for each ecological site thereby creating STMs that function at both DRG and ecological site scales. • The limited availability of ecological site descriptions hinders their use in large-scale management planning and may be a factor associated with the observed lack of application of available STMs • Standardization of ecological site mapping tools for GIS platforms would increase the utility of DRGs, STMs, and ecological site descriptions for many land managers in the western United States.
    • Case Study: Application of Ecological Site Information to Transformative Changes on Great Basin Sagebrush Rangelands

      Williams, C. Jason; Pierson, Frederick B.; Spaeth, Kenneth E.; Brown, Joel R.; Al-Hamdan, Osama Z.; Weltz, Mark A.; Nearing, Mark A.; Herrick, Jeffrey E.; Boll, Jan; Robichaud, Peter R.; et al. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • The utility of ecological site descriptions (ESD) in the management of rangelands hinges on their ability to characterize and predict plant community change, the associated ecological consequences, and ecosystem responsiveness to management. • We demonstrate how enhancement of ESDs with key ecohydrologic information can aid predictions of ecosystem response and targeting of conservation practices for sagebrush rangelands that are strongly regulated by ecohydrologic or ecogeomorphic feedbacks. • The primary point of this work is that ESD concepts are flexible and can be creatively augmented for improved assessment and management of rangelands.
    • The History and Overview of Utah’s Grazing Improvement Program

      Longmore, Ashley T.; Forrest, Troy (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Livestock numbers have been declining since the early 1930s but many of the same resource concerns are still present today. • We must change the way we think about and manage livestock on our own in order to restore and maintain sustainable range resources. • The Utah Department of Agriculture and Foods Grazing Improvement Program reaches across land ownership and jurisdictional boundaries to foster collaboration among private, federal, and state interests to implement sound grazing management practices that improve rangeland and watershed health. • The Grazing Improvement Program focuses on three main principles: • Time (the duration of grazing), timing (the season of use), frequency (how often the same plant is grazed), and intensity (amount of forage removed); • Managing plant succession through grazing, mechanical, fire, chemical, and other means to enhance diversity and production (diversity = sustainability); • Monitoring and adaptive management (you cannot manage what you do not measure).
    • The Role of Cattle Grazing Management on Perennial Grass and Woody Vegetation Cover in Semiarid Rangelands: Insights From Two Case Studies in the Botswana Kalahari

      Mudongo, Edwin I.; Fusi, Tsholofelo; Fynn, Richard W.S.; Bonyongo, Mpaphi C. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • We assessed the long-term effects of continuous and rotational grazing on grass and treedynamics on adjacent ranches in the semiarid Kalahari of western Botswana. • Rotationally grazed ranches had higher grass cover with more perennial grass species, higher grazing value (and capacity), and higher long-term stocking rates than their continuously grazed neighbors. Tree cover tended to be higher on continuously grazed ranches, suggesting that long-term continuous grazing reduced grass production and favored establishment of woody vegetation. • Improvement in semiarid rangeland health and production is unlikely to be achieved simply by reducing stocking rates; uniform grazing and growing season recovery periods are essential. • These and other case studies suggest that benefits of grazing strategies likely depend on scale and adaptive management. Future research should be at larger spatial and temporal scales.