• Listen, Learn, Liaise: Taking the Species Out of Species-At-Risk Through Engagement

      Jones, P.F.; Downey, B.A.; Downey, B.L.; Taylor, K.; Miller, A.J.; Demaere, C. (Society for Range Management, 2019-08)
      Over the past 150 years, cultivation, urbanization, and industrial activity have replaced much of North America's native prairie. As such, native prairie ecosystems are of vital importance to many species at risk. If society wants to conserve the North American prairie ecosystem, including the many species at risk, then partnerships between public agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and private landholders need to be established and strengthened. To benefit the most species at risk, this partnership should metamorphose from the typical single-species management into one that addresses the needs of multiple species. To that end, we present a framework that is achieved through voluntary partnerships with the ranching community that alleviates their fear of species at risk and enhances their ability to manage multiple species at risk on their properties. We use the MULTISAR program, delivered since 2002 in the grasslands of southern Alberta, Canada, as the example of an effective and functioning multiple-species conservation program that has applied the framework. Conservation is achieved through the development of a Habitat Conservation Strategy that is based on the 4 pillars of 1) engagement, 2) respect, 3) empowerment, and 4) monitoring and evaluation. We discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the framework and program based on 15 years’ experience. As the program built trust and acceptance in the ranching community, the number of participants has continuously grown from 1 cooperator to 39 by 2018, conserving 1,600 km2 of prairie habitat in southern Alberta. The process outlined here can be applied across the grasslands of North America and the world as an effective approach for engaging landholders in the conservation of a suite of species at risk.
    • Old School and High Tech: A Comparison of Methods to Quantify Ashe Juniper Biomass as Fuel or Forage

      Tolleson, D.R.; Rhodes, E.C.; Malambo, L.; Angerer, J.P.; Redden, R.R.; Treadwell, M.L.; Popescu, S.C. (Society for Range Management, 2019-08)
      Ashe juniper invasion is a widespread issue on Texas and Oklahoma rangelands. Increased densities of Ashe juniper trees increase the risk of wildfire and decrease herbaceous forage production. Browsing animals, such as goats, are one tool that can be used to effectively reduce juniper fuel. In order to estimate the available biomass, allometric measurements were compared against three-dimensional Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) scans of whole juniper plants. Accurate measurements of standing juniper browse and fuel load can be vital information for decision support of grazing management and wildland fire mitigation, especially in the ever-growing wildland-urban interface.
    • Immersive Co-production to Inform Ranch Management in Gunnison, Colorado, USA

      Courkamp, J.S.; Knapp, C.N.; Allen, B. (Society for Range Management, 2019-08)
      To be successful, producers must interpret environmental stimuli and respond with management actions that help match their production operations to the ecosystem services they depend on. Climate change, and the increased variability that will likely result, may lessen the relevance of historical rules of thumb and management heuristics by altering environmental conditions and giving rise to novel systems that feature more frequent and intense periods of stress. Sustaining livestock production in the face of climate change depends on the rapid production of knowledge to inform adaptation to novel systems. Involving producers in research is often discussed as a strategy to help accomplish this goal. We propose immersive co-production, wherein a student researcher is embedded within the production operations of a working ranch while studying and conducting research, as one method of quickly developing the knowledge resources necessary to sustain livestock production in the context of environmental change. We present a case study involving a ranch near Gunnison, Colorado, as evidence of the effectiveness of this approach. Immersive co-production involves producers in research and researchers in production to develop useful ranch-level management insights and a new generation of interdisciplinary range professionals with intimate knowledge of the complexity faced by producers.
    • Plant Phenology: Taking the Pulse of Rangelands

      Browning, D.M.; Snyder, K.A.; Herrick, J.E. (Society for Range Management, 2019-06)
      Plant phenology—timing of seasonal life cycle events—is a primary control on ecosystem productivity. Phenology data can be used to design better management systems by adjusting the timing of grazing or managed burns relative to growth stages of key species and planning restoration activities, such as targeted grazing. Tower-mounted digital cameras (phenocams) provide a cost-effective way to collect data to capture phenology metrics for vegetation greenness. Phenocam greenness values can provide canopy-level metrics in real time for a fraction of the cost of field observations and link field and satellite observations to reveal species contributions to greenness.
    • An Assessment of Riparian Shrub Browsing

      Larson, L.L.; Larson, P.A. (Society for Range Management, 2019-06)
      Browse estimates in this study were made using a random sampling strategy to monitor riparian shrub communities using presence or absence to determine the percent of shrub occupancy and intensity of browsing. This height-based shrub monitoring takes the guesswork out of complex browse estimates. The strategic timing of monitoring periods facilitates separation of wildlife and livestock browsing impacts. Height-based shrub monitoring was an efficient and repeatable method for tracking shrub occupancy, maturity, and shrub form. The Society for Range Management
    • Yellowstone's Prehistoric Bison: A Comment on Keigley (2019)

      Beschta, R.L.; Ripple, W.J. (Society for Range Management, 2019-06)
      We provide additional information addressing the issue of whether American bison (Bison bison) were generally absent or present in Yellowstone National Park prior to its establishment in 1872. Our results support Keigley's conclusion that bison herds before the mid-1800s were absent in Yellowstone National park, and particularly the park's northern range. Our results also support Keigley's conclusion that bison had no significant role in the ecological processes that helped shape the park's original landscape.
    • Editors Choice from Rangeland Ecology and Management

      Jin, X.H.; Chen, M.J.; Fan, Y.M.; Duan, H.; Yan, L. (Society for Range Management, 2019-06)
    • Browsing the Literature

      Germino, M. (Society for Range Management, 2019-06)
    • Trophic ecology warrants multispecies management in a grassland setting: Proposed species interactions on black-tailed prairie dog colonies

      Parker, R.A.; Duchardt, C.J.; Dwyer, A.M.; Painter, C.; Pierce, A.K.; Michels, T.J.; Wunder, M.B. (Society for Range Management, 2019-06)
      Trophic cascades occur when flora and fauna directly and/or indirectly influence co-occurring species populations at different levels of the food chain, and North American temperate grasslands provide an interesting case study to research these relationships. We briefly define trophic cascades in terrestrial systems and explore the potential for a cascading trophic interaction among grassland-associated swift fox (Vulpes velox), western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea), and mountain plover (Charadrius montanus), three rangeland species of conservation concern, on black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) colonies using two US Forest Service data sets. Historic patterns of occurrence and co-occurrence suggest top-down control governs the spatiotemporal distribution patterns of the three species and may be influenced by habitat fragmentation and management actions. Managing for interactive, multitrophic communities requires the identification of species interactions and the mechanisms that drive them. Long-term multispecies occupancy research, combined with hypothesized driving mechanisms and the co-occurrence of associated grassland species, is recommended for addressing these complex interactions moving forward. The Society for Range Management
    • The Prehistoric Bison of Yellowstone National Park

      Keigley, R.B. (Society for Range Management, 2019-04)
      When Yellowstone National Park (YNP) was established in 1872, American bison (Bison bison) were living in the park's forests and mountains. A study conducted in the 1960s concluded that those were Mountain bison (Bison bison athabascae), a subspecies adapted to mountain habitat. It was assumed that those historical bison occupied their native habitat and had done so in prehistoric times. When archaeological evidence of YNP bison was discovered in the mid-1990s it seemed reasonable to assume that those bones were derived from a herd of native prehistoric bison. However, a review of archaeological, historical, genetic, and ecological evidence suggests a different history. Namely, herds of bison were absent before 1840. Sometime between 1840 and the mid-1850s, plains bison were driven into the mountain forest in and near YNP. In those forests, bison were relatively safe from horse-mounted, bow-and-arrow-armed Native American hunters. Archaeological evidence suggests that YNP's prehistoric bison were bulls that left herds on the low-elevation plains that surround the park; the bulls would have traveled up mountain drainages to the Yellowstone volcanic plateau. Bison played no significant role in the ecological processes that shaped YNP's prehistoric landscape. YNP's modern bison herd is causing significant changes in range condition.
    • Contemporary Livestock–Predator Themes Identified Through a Wyoming, USA Rancher Survey

      Windh, J.L.; Stam, B.; Scasta, J.D. (Society for Range Management, 2019-04)
      Livestock-predator interactions structure ranchers' perceptions of predators. We surveyed 274 ranchers in Wyoming using open-answer questions about contemporary livestock-predator themes. Four themes emerged: 1) difficulty mitigating losses from protected large carnivores; 2) escalating impacts of predatory birds on livestock and wildlife; 3) sustainability of predator management funding; and 4) continual bureaucratic complexities of predator management. Themes had an underlying thread regarding the tension between state control versus federal control including concern about growing predator populations that may affect both livestock and native wildlife such as greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus).
    • Linking Landscapes and People —Projecting the Future of the Great Plains

      Sohl, T.; Dornbierer, J.; Wika, S. (Society for Range Management, 2019-04)
      We developed a unique set of landscape projections for the Great Plains that use real land-management parcels to represent landscape patterns at high spatial and thematic resolution. Both anthropogenic land use and natural vegetation respond in the model to projected changes in groundwater availability and climate change. Thirty-three scenario combinations were modeled, facilitating landscape planning and mitigation efforts under a range of possible landscape futures. Change in rangeland from 2014 to 2100 varied from an increase of 4.3% for the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) B2 scenario, to a decline of 23.6% for the SRES A1B scenario. The spatially and thematically detailed projections are designed for the assessment of landscape interactions with water flow and water quality, species distribution and abundance modeling, greenhouse gas assessments, and other ecosystem services.
    • Survivability of Wyoming Big Sagebrush Transplants

      Clements, C.D.; Harmon, D.N. (Society for Range Management, 2019-04)
      Wyoming big sagebrush is a dominant shrub species on millions of acres of rangelands throughout the Intermountain West and plays a critical role in the health and diversity of many wildlife species. Restoration practices to re-establish Wyoming big sagebrush on degraded habitats have largely been met with submarginal success, yet the need to restore or rehabilitate Wyoming big sagebrush has become increasingly important due to extensive losses of big sagebrush habitats, fragmentation, and sensitive sagebrush obligate species. Lack of success from seeding rangelands either by ground application or aerially has prompted some resource managers to look more closely at transplantng methodologies. Transplanting of Wyoming big sagebrush is largely done using cone-size containers or bare-stock plants and is recommended to be conducted in spring. This study was initiated in 2012 to test fall versus spring transplanting. Fall transplanting success averaged 65% with a range of 41% to 82%, while spring transplant success averaged 41% with a range of 13% to 65%. The cold desert of the Great Basin receives the majority of its precipitation during winter months, therefore providing a more reliable source of available precipitation for newly transplanted Wyoming big sagebrush seedlings. A significant part of increasing big sagebrush transplanting success is the combination of increased container size and moving the timing of transplanting from spring to fall due to an increase in favorable and reliable precipitation.
    • Browsing the Literature

      Germino, M. (Society for Range Management, 2019-04)
    • Editors Choice from Rangeland Ecology and Management

      Sheley, R. (Society for Range Management, 2019-04)
    • On Conflict and Conflict of Interest

      Karl, J.W.; Sheley, R.; Levi, E.; Brown, J. (Society for Range Management, 2019-04)
    • Upland Water and Deferred Rotation Effects on Cattle Use in Riparian and Upland Areas – A Reply to Carter et al. 2017

      Guttery, M.R.; Caudill, D. (Society for Range Management, 2019-04)
      A recent publication by Carter et al. (2017) presents research on the effects of deferred rotation grazing and water provisioning on a suite of environmental variables. We detail issues that call into question the validity of the results and conclusions reported by the authors. Data were not collected in a scientifically rigorous way. Sufficient detail is not presented for the study to be replicated. The authors do not adhere to standard statistical definitions or assumptions. The study suffers from unaccounted for pseudoreplication. The authors draw conclusions beyond the reasonable scope of inference.
    • History of Grass Breeding for Grazing Lands in the Northern Great Plains of the USA and Canada

      Vogel, K.P.; Hendrickson, J. (Society for Range Management, 2019-02)
      In the early 1930s there were millions of acres of extensively degraded grazing lands and abandoned and eroded cropland in the Northern Plains of the United States and Canada. Grass breeding and plant materials programs were established by both the US and Canadian governments and cooperating universities to develop revegetation materials. Efforts of a small number of research locations and people resulted in grass cultivars or varieties that were used to revegetate and preserve the soil on millions of acres of land. This is a brief history of the people, agencies, and universities that developed these cultivars that restored and increased the productivity of grasslands in the Northern Plains.