• Grazing protection influences soil mesofauna in ungrazed and grazed riparian and upland pastures

      Miller, J. J.; Battigelli, J. P.; Willms, W. D. (Society for Range Management, 2014-07)
      The influence of grazing protection caused by streambank fencing on soil mesofauna density is unknown. Our objective was to determine if grazing protection (ungrazed vs. grazed), location (upland vs. riparian pasture), and seasonal (spring vs. fall) treatment effects associated with streambank fencing had a significant influence on soil mesofauna distribution and density. We collected five intact soil cores (0-5 cm depth) in June and October of 2012 from within four treatments consisting of ungrazed and grazed riparian and upland pastures associated with streambank fencing along an 800-m reach of the Lower Little Bow River in southern Alberta, Canada. Soil mesofauna were extracted and densities of Acari (mites) taxa, Collembola (springtails) taxa, and other mesofauna were determined. Grazing protection resulted in a significant (P ≤ 0.05) negative response of Astigmata mite densities for the upland pasture, and a positive response for Oribatida mites and total Collembola, and Hypogastruridae and Onychiuridae springtails for both pastures. Location and season had a significant influence on Acari and Collembola taxa, but the effects were dependent on interaction effects. We conclude that grazing protection influenced certain soil mesofauna in pastures associated with streambank fencing, and this may influence decomposition of soil organic matter, nutrient cycling, and soil structure in associated pastures. © 2014 The Society for Range Management.
    • Monitoring British upland ecosystems with the use of landscape structure as an indicator for state-and-transition models

      Young, D.; Perotto-Baldivieso, H. L.; Brewer, T.; Homer, R.; Santos, S. A. (Society for Range Management, 2014-07)
      Remote sensing and landscape ecology concepts can provide a useful framework for state-and-transition models (STM) in order to quantify thresholds at different scales, and provide useful information for scientists, land managers, and conservationists in relation to resilience management. The overall aim of this research was to develop a spatially explicit STM to quantify thresholds based on the scale of disturbance processes impacting a grazing system. Specific objectives were to develop a conceptual STM framework for upland grazing ecosystems, to quantify spatial dynamics of stable and degraded pastures, and to assess threshold occurrence. Color aerial photography from Armboth Fell in the English Lake District National Park (United Kingdom) was classified into bare rock, dwarf shrub heath (DSH), and grassland/degraded wet heath (GDWH) in four pastures with different degrees of grazing pressure. Vegetation communities from these pastures were combined with soils, climate, and landform data to create a conceptual STM framework. Each pasture was sampled with 2-ha plots to quantify DSH and GDWH spatial structure. The proposed STM consisted of two reference and three alternative states. Low-grazing-pressure areas showed significantly higher percentage of DSH cover with larger contiguous patches and lower patch density than high-grazing-pressure areas. Breakpoints, considered to be thresholds, in mean patch area were identified in our data when DSH percentage cover was < 63% and GDWH, > 77%. The present study has shown the value of a robust, reliable, and repeatable approach to identify landscape dynamics and integrate it with field data to inform a conceptual STM framework for upland grazing ecosystems. It also demonstrates the importance of selecting scales relevant to the predominant disturbance process to test for threshold occurrence, and how this approach can be integrated with current assessment methods for resilience management. © 2014 The Society for Range Management.