Rangelands, Volume 37, Number 5 (2015)
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Welcome to the Rangelands archives. The archives provide public access, in a "rolling window" agreement with the Society for Range Management, to Rangelands (1979-present) from v.1 up to three years from the present year.
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Drought Consequences for Cow-Calf Production in Wyoming: 2011—2014On the Ground • Drought reduces forage quantity and carrying capacity, but reductions in cow-calf performance measured by calf average daily gain (ADG) and weaning weight (WW) are less understood. • From 2011 to 2014, a period with very dry and very wet years, we assessed an adjusted 210 day WW and ADG for a total of 869 calves on two University of Wyoming ranches. • We found WW was up to 99 pounds (lb) lower, and ADG was up to 0.47 lb lower between the driest and wettest years. • For each one inch reduction in precipitation, WW are predicted to be 7 lb to 14 lb lower, ADG is expected to be 0.03 lb to 0.07 lb lower, and dollar per head values 12 to 27 lower, depending on calf sex and ranch location. • If drought occurs, or continues to escalate in frequency and severity, WW reductions, ADG reductions, and value per head reductions should be expected and documented for strategic planning and/or compensation programs.
Seasonal Availability of Cool and Warm-Season Herbage in the Northern Mixed PrairieOn the Ground • Variability in spatial and temporal patterns of herbage production is common in grasslands and can affect land uses, such as grazing. • Total herbage biomass in northern mixed grass prairie was similar on loamy and sand dune ecologic sites but varied in composition. • Cool-season grasses were uniformly produced throughout the grazing season, whereas warm-season grasses grew rapidly during August. • Litter conservation was important for increasing cool-season grass biomass, whereas warm-season grasses remained independent of litter. • Biomass and composition of herbage in the northern mixed grass varies spatially and intra-annually, affecting seasonal grazing opportunities for livestock.
Temperament Does Not Affect Steer Weight Gains on Extensively Managed Semiarid RangelandOn the Ground • Cattle with poor temperaments gain less weight in feedlots. However, how yearling steer temperament affects weight gain on rangelands is a knowledge gap for ranchers. • Flight speed, the speed at which cattle exit a chute after weighing, has been used to measure temperament in past feedlot studies (faster speed = poor temperament). We used flight speed scores in this study to measure yearling steer temperament at the beginning (mid-May) and end (early-October) of grazing seasons for 3 years: 2011–2013. • We hypothesized that steer weight gains on extensively managed semiarid rangeland with low stocking densities (~0.11–0.15 steers/ha) would not be influenced by temperament due to the muh lower animal densities and fewer handling events than experienced in feedlots. • No meaningful relationships were found between season-beginning or season-ending flight speed score and steer average daily gain, and flight speed scores were often lower at the end of the season. • Results suggest that ranchers operating stocker enterprises with extensive management and low stocking densities on rangelands can potentially be less selective for temperament when assembling herds.
Using Science to Bridge Management and Policy: Terracette Hydrologic Function and Water Quality Best Management Practices in IdahoOn The Ground • Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution is a leading cause of water quality degradation on 40% of the semiarid lands within the western United States, with sediment from runoff on agricultural lands making up 15%. • Managing NPS pollution through best management practices (BMPs) relies on site-specific knowledge and voluntary application. • The dominant hydrologic processes in semiarid environments are a product of local climate, vegetation, and soil conditions; therefore, land use and ecosystem resilience invariably hinge on a balance of shifting, and often competing, social and environmental drivers. • Our measurements of terracette hydrologic function and existence on more than 159,000 hectares within Idaho enabled an estimate of potential NPS erosion and sediment generation, emphasizing the value of site-specific scientific research for land managers. • Our study provides an example of how microtopographic landforms, such as terracettes, are connected with state and federal clean water policy as one example of how interdisciplinary research can have far-reaching application.
View Point: The Greater Sage-Grouse Story: Do We Have It Right?On the Ground • Greater sage-grouse were found to be threatened or endangered with extinction in a preliminary assessment in 2010, with a final decision on an Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing due in 2015. • ESA criteria regarding endangered status (in danger of extinction), threatened status (likely to become in danger of extinction), the foreseeable future (in which a species will become in danger of extinction), and a significant portion of a species range (without which a species will be in danger of extinction) are not definitive, rely on predictions, and are all concerned with species extinction, not simply population declines. • The 2010 ESA determination for sage-grouse relies on observations of declining populations, predictions from models with uncertain assumptions, incomplete population data, and anticipated habitat changes. Prediction of species extinction from this information can be considered speculation, and insufficient for an ESA listing. • Wildlife management without the encumbrances ofthe ESA and its associated litigation and regulation can be used to maintain and enhance species that are not in immediate danger of extinction, such as sage-grouse.