Welcome to the Rangeland Ecology & Management archives. The journal Rangeland Ecology & Management (RE&M; v58, 2005-present) is the successor to the Journal of Range Management (JRM; v. 1-57, 1948-2004.) The archives provide public access, in a "rolling window" agreement with the Society for Range Management, to both titles (JRM and RE&M), from v.1 up to five years from the present year.

The most recent years of RE&M are available through membership in the Society for Range Management (SRM). Membership in SRM is a means to access current information and dialogue on rangeland management.

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Print ISSN: 0022-409x

Online ISSN: 1550-7424


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Recent Submissions

  • Rangeland Ecology & Management Table of Contents Volume 71, Number 4 (2018)

    Society for Range Management (Society for Range Management, 2018-07)
  • Rangeland Ecology & Management Editorial Board Volume 71, Number 4 (2018)

    Society for Range Management (Society for Range Management, 2018-07)
  • Soil Health as a Transformational Change Agent for US Grazing Lands Management

    Derner, J.D.; Smart, A.J.; Toombs, T.P.; Larsen, D.; McCulley, R.L.; Goodwin, J.; Sims, S.; Roche, L.M. (Society for Range Management, 2018-07)
    There is rapidly growing national interest in grazing lands’ soil health, which has been motivated by the current soil health renaissance in cropland agriculture. In contrast to intensively managed croplands, soil health for grazing lands, especially rangelands, is tempered by limited scientific evidence clearly illustrating positive feedbacks between soil health and grazing land resilience, or sustainability. Opportunities exist for improving soil health on grazing lands with intensively managed plant communities (e.g., pasture systems) and formerly cultivated or degraded lands. Therefore, the goal of this paper is to provide direction and recommendations for incorporating soil health into grazing management considerations on grazing lands. We argue that the current soil health renaissance should not focus on improvement of soil health on grazing lands where potential is limited but rather forward science-based management for improving grazing lands’ resilience to environmental change via 1) refocusing grazing management on fundamental ecological processes (water and nutrient cycling and energy flow) rather than maximum short-term profit or livestock production; 2) emphasizing goal-based management with adaptive decision making informed by specific objectives incorporating maintenance of soil health at a minimum and directly relevant monitoring attributes; 3) advancing holistic and integrated approaches for soil health that highlight social-ecological-economic interdependencies of these systems, with particular emphasis on human dimensions; 4) building cross-institutional partnerships on grazing lands’ soil health to enhance technical capacities of students, land managers, and natural resource professionals; and 5) creating a cross-region, living laboratory network of case studies involving producers using soil health as part of their grazing land management. Collectively, these efforts could foster transformational changes by strengthening the link between natural resources stewardship and sustainable grazing lands management through management-science partnerships in a social-ecological systems framework.
  • Insights from Long-Term Ungrazed and Grazed Watersheds in a Salt Desert Colorado Plateau Ecosystem

    Duniway, M.C.; Geiger, E.L.; Minnick, T.J.; Phillips, S.L.; Belnap, J. (Society for Range Management, 2018-07)
    Dryland ecosystems cover over 41% of the earth's land surface, and living within these important ecosystems are approximately 2 billion people, a large proportion of whom are subsistence agropastoralists. Improper grazing in drylands can negatively impact ecosystem productivity, soil conservation, hydrologic processes, downstream water quantity and quality, and ultimately human health and economic well-being. Concerns regarding the degraded state of western US rangelands in the 1950s resulted in an interagency committee to study the effects of land use on runoff and erosion processes. In 1953, a federal research group established four paired watersheds in western Colorado to study the interaction of grazing by domestic livestock, runoff, and sediment yield. Exclusion of livestock from half of the watersheds dramatically reduced runoff and sediment yield after the first 10 yr—primarily due to changes in ground cover but not vegetation. Here, we report results of repeated soils and vegetation assessments of the experimental watersheds after more than 50 yr of grazing exclusion. Results show that many of the differences in soil conditions between grazed and ungrazed watersheds observed in the 1950s and 1960s were still present in 2004, despite reduced numbers of livestock: few differences in vegetation cover but large differences in biological soil crusts, soil stability, soil compaction, and soil biogeochemistry. There were differences among soil types in response to grazing history, especially soil lichen cover and soil organic matter, nitrogen, and sodium. Comparisons of ground cover measured in 2004 with those measured in 1953, 1966, and 1972 suggest much of the differences between grazed and ungrazed watersheds likely were driven by high sheep numbers during droughts in the 1950s. Persistence of these differences, despite large reductions in stocking rates, suggest the combination of overgrazing and drought may have pushed these salt desert ecosystems into a persistent, degraded ecological state.
  • Trait Response and Change in Genetic Variation upon Selection for Spike Number in Salina Wildrye

    Jones, T.A.; Larson, S.R. (Society for Range Management, 2018-07)
    Salina wildrye (Leymus salinus [M.E. Jones] Á. Löve) is a perennial cool-season grass that potentially could become an important restoration species in the Colorado Plateau. However, its seed production has never been commercially viable due to sparse heading. We compared a 4x ssp. salmonis population, Lakeside C3, to an 8x ssp. salinus population, 9043501, for seed production − related traits and measured the response of 9043501 to 2 cycles of selection for increased spike number over a 4-yr period at Millville, Utah. Seed yield of Lakeside and 9043501 was similar (P > 0.10) in 2013, but seed yield of 9043501 was 81% greater (P < 0.10) than Lakeside in 2014 and 191% greater (P < 0.01) in 2015. Lakeside spike number was 99% greater (P < 0.0001) than 9043501 in 2013, but they were similar (P > 0.10) in 2014 and 2015. Seeds per spike of 9043501 were 71% (P < 0.05), 80% (P < 0.05), and 209% (P < 0.01) greater than Lakeside in 2013, 2014, and 2015, respectively. Selection in 9043501 increased (P < 0.05) spike number by 4.3 spikes per plant (19.8%) per cycle of selection in the first seed-production yr (2013), but no change was seen in 2014 or 2015 (P > 0.10). Selection did not change (P > 0.10) seeds per spike or individual seed mass. Consequently, seed yield increased (P < 0.05) 0.32 g per plant per cycle (36.8%) in 2013, with no increase (P > 0.10) in 2014 or 2015. Dry matter per plant across the 4 yr increased (P < 0.01) 10.3 g per plant per cycle (9.3%), and canopy height increased (P < 0.01) 3.9 cm per cycle (6.6%) in 2013. AFLP DNA primers detected a 1.7% loss of genetic variation per cycle, presumably due to a combination of selection and genetic drift, but no plant traits were diminished as a result.
  • Tightly Bunched Herding Improves Cattle Performance in African Savanna Rangeland

    Odadi, W.O.; Riginos, C.; Rubenstein, D.I. (Society for Range Management, 2018-07)
    Rotational grazing management approaches are regarded as strategies for sustaining rangeland productivity and continue to be applied across many parts of the world. In Africa, livestock farmers implementing rotational grazing often switch from traditional loosely bunched herding (LBH), in which animals within a herd are allowed to spread out naturally when foraging, to tightly bunched herding (TBH) with limited herd spread to increase animal impact on the range. However, there is little scientific information on the actual direct (short-term) effects of this altered herding strategy on livestock productivity. We investigated the direct effects of TBH versus LBH on foraging behavior, nutrition, and performance (weight gain) of cattle in a semiarid savanna rangeland in central Kenya. We conducted the study across two habitat types: a heterogeneous red soil habitat and a relatively homogeneous black cotton soil habitat. Across both habitats, cattle traveled 9–15% less, foraged 10–29% more efficiently, and put on 14–39% more weight when managed with TBH as compared with LBH. These changes occurred despite the fact that stock densities were double to several times higher under TBH, and cattle under this herding regime foraged less selectively, consuming preferred plants less (especially in the black cotton soil habitat) and consuming diets with lower crude protein content (in the red soil habitat). Financial projection showed that the benefit of increased cattle performance under TBH could sufficiently outweigh increased cost of additional labor required to implement this herding strategy. These findings suggest that TBH, as practiced here, can be implemented without livestock production or financial losses. Further, the research demonstrated reduced grazing selectivity under TBH indicates that this herding strategy could potentially be used to reduce grazing pressure on preferred forage plants and maintain herbaceous species diversity without sacrificing cattle performance.
  • Sodium Chloride Effects on Seed Germination, Growth, and Water Use of Lepidium alyssoides, L. draba, and L. latifolium: Traits of Resistance and Implications for Invasiveness on Saline Soils

    Hooks, T.N.; Picchioni, G.A.; Schutte, B.J.; Shukla, M.K.; Daniel, D.L. (Society for Range Management, 2018-07)
    In the semiarid southwestern United States, long-term drought, soil salinity, and land-use intensification have increased the risk of invasive plants that threatens landscape biodiversity. Soil-related factors that regulate plant invasions are not adequately known. We evaluated the salinity responses of three invasive plant species during a 3-mo plant growth period in a greenhouse and during a 2–wk seed germination study in the laboratory. The species included the indigenous Lepidium alyssoides A. Gray var. alyssoides (mesa pepperwort) and the exotic, invasive L. draba L. (whitetop) and L. latifolium L. (perennial pepperweed). A NaCl solution at –0.2 MPa reduced germination of L. alyssoides by ≈ 20% and had no effect on germination of L. draba and L. latifolium, merely delaying their mean germination time by a day or less. Reductions in seedling dry matter production and evapotranspiration (ET) were observed following irrigation with NaCl solutions at –0.1 MPa and –0.2 MPa. However, on the basis of ET and total plant dry matter production under common experimental conditions, the salt resistance of these species greatly exceeded that of salt sensitive bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) and equaled or exceeded that of salt-resistant cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.). Below-ground propagating structures giving rise to clonal shoots were observed for all Lepidium spp., consistent with other reports. The results indicate that vegetative propagule pressure and relatively high resistance to salinity at germination and seedling growth stages could contribute to the invasiveness of these species under saline conditions. A broader impact of the findings is in their application to the larger diversity of invasive species to aid in the understanding of soil salinity and how it may govern plant invasions. This dataset could improve risk assessment measures to favor biodiversity in rangelands and natural ecosystems of semiarid regions.
  • Paddock Size Mediates the Heterogeneity of Grazing Impacts on Vegetation

    Oñatibia, G.R.; Aguiar, M.R. (Society for Range Management, 2018-07)
    Domestic herbivores’ effect on vegetation is spatially heterogeneous, being one of the major causes of forage resources degradation. It has been proposed that paddock size controls grazing impact's heterogeneity because as size decreases, herbivores’ utilization is spatially more even. However, this has not been critically evaluated in commercial-scale paddocks isolating paddock size effects from other factors influencing the interaction between herbivores and vegetation. Here we assessed how paddock size mediates the heterogeneity of continuous sheep grazing effects on vegetation, at constant stocking rate in Patagonian steppes. We selected three small (ca. 110 ha) and three large (ca. 1 100 ha) paddocks dominated by the same plant community. All paddocks contained a single watering point and presented similar shape. Total and specific plant cover, vegetation patchiness, population size distribution of dominant grass species, plant morphology, and sheep feces density were estimated at increasing distances from watering points. Relationships between vegetation variables and distance from the watering point were in most cases asymptotic exponential, although responses generally differed between small and large paddocks. In small paddocks, vegetation variables mostly reached a plateau at a short distance from the watering point (~ 200 m). Instead, in large paddocks, the changes in vegetation variables were larger and more gradual, and reached a plateau at much greater distances (~ 2 000 m). Vegetation heterogeneity throughout the paddock was lower in small than large paddocks. Our findings suggest that paddock size mediates the spatial pattern of grazing effects on vegetation. Reducing paddock size decreases grazing impacts spatial heterogeneity, which makes plant-animal interactions more predictable and might improve forage utilization efficiency.
  • Low-Cost Global Positioning System Tracking Collars for Use on Cattle

    Knight, C.W.; Bailey, D.W.; Faulkner, D. (Society for Range Management, 2018-07)
    Commercially available global positioning system (GPS) tracking collars for cattle are cost prohibitive for most researchers. This paper presents a low-cost alternative to those collars (Knight GPS tracking collars) and compares their performance to a popular commercially available collar. A list of required materials and detailed instructions on fabrication are available in the supplementary content. Brangus cows (n = 8) were tracked with both LOTEK 3300 and Knight GPS tracking collars for 31 d beginning 14 March 2015 at the Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center 37 km north of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Locations were recorded every 10 min and used to calculate mean slope, elevation, distance from water, distance traveled per d, and elevation for each cow. No differences were detected (P ≥ 0.37) between collar types for location, slope, or distance from water. However, the distance traveled tended (P = 0.08) to be lower for Knight collars (6 171 m d− 1) compared with Lotek collars (7 104 m d− 1). Lotek collars recorded more (P ≤ 0.001) of the potential locations (99.9%) than the Knight collars (66.2%). Although the Knight collars failed to record all of the potential positions, they still provided a good indication of cattle locations on extensive pastures located in the Chihuahuan Desert.
  • Germination Ecology of Cenchrus biflorus Roxb.: Effects of Environmental Factors on Seed Germination

    Peerzada, A.M.; Naeem, M. (Society for Range Management, 2018-07)
    Better understanding related to germination and seedling emergence of plant species assists in predicting the potential distribution and provides insight for efficient management. Cenchrus biflorus Roxb. has been considered as potential forage species in arid environment due to its high nutritive values, prolific seed production, and tolerance to extreme temperature and prolonged drought conditions. A series of laboratory and greenhouse assays were conducted to determine the effect of different environmental factors, such as temperature, light, pH, salinity, osmotic potential, and seed burial depth on the germination and seedling emergence of C. biflorus. The maximum germination (95%) was recorded at 35°C/25°C, followed by 40°C/30°C; however, minimum germination was observed at 45°C/35°C (17.5%). Light significantly promoted the germination with maximum percentage (97.5%) when seeds were exposed to altering light and dark conditions (12/12 h). The osmotic potential for the 50% inhibition of C. biflorus germination was –0.4 MPa, although some seed germinated at –0.8 MPa (12.5%). Germination decreased from 97.5% to 12.5% as salinity stress increased from 0 mM to 200 mM sodium chloride (NaCl) with no germination > 200 mM. Seed germination was significantly affected by pH levels and was between 27.5% and 92.5% at 5–8 pH, respectively. No seedling emerged when seeds were placed on the soil surface; maximum seedling emergence (90%) at 2-cm burial depth and emergence decreased considerably as seeding depth increased above 2 cm. Its tolerance to drought and salinity make C. biflorus a potential candidate to be used as an alternative source during periods of forage scarcity under harsh climatic conditions, and it could possibly be used for rangeland rehabilitation purposes in arid environments.
  • Effects of Mowing and Tebuthiuron on the Nutritional Quality of Wyoming Big Sagebrush

    Smith, K.T.; Forbey, J.S.; Beck, J.L. (Society for Range Management, 2018-07)
    Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt. ssp. wyomingensis Beetle & Young) is the most abundant and widely distributed subspecies of big sagebrush and has been treated through chemical application, mechanical treatments, and prescribed burning in efforts thought to improve habitat conditions for species such as greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus). Although the response of structural attributes of sagebrush communities to treatments is well understood, there is a need to identify how treatments influence the quality of sagebrush as winter food for wildlife. Our purpose was to identify how mowing and tebuthiuron treatments influenced dietary quality of Wyoming big sagebrush in central Wyoming. Two study areas were mowed in January and February 2014, and tebuthiuron was applied in two study areas in May 2014. We constructed 6 exclosures in each of these four study areas (24 total), which encompassed 30 × 30 m areas of treated and untreated sagebrush within each exclosure. Samples of current annual growth were collected from 18 sagebrush plants from treated and 12 plants from control portions of mowing exclosures during November 2013–2015 and tebuthiuron exclosures during November 2014–2015. Samples were analyzed for crude protein and plant secondary metabolites known to influence dietary selection of sagebrush by sage-grouse and other sagebrush-occurring herbivores. Our results suggest mowing and tebuthiuron treatments may slightly increase crude protein concentrations directly after treatments without immediate changes in plant secondary metabolites. Slight increases in dietary quality of sagebrush following treatments coupled with potential trade-offs with loss of biomass associated with treatments corroborates previous research that treating Wyoming big sagebrush may have little benefit for sage-grouse and other sagebrush-dependent wildlife. Future work should evaluate not only how treatments influence sage-grouse habitat use and reproductive success but also how treatments influence other wildlife species in fragile sagebrush ecosystems.
  • Effect of Climoedaphic Heterogeneity on Woody Plant Dominance in the Argentine Caldenal Region

    Svejcar, L.N.; Peinetti, H.R.; Bestelmeyer, B.T. (Society for Range Management, 2018-07)
    Woody plant encroachment is widespread throughout drylands of the world, but rates and patterns of encroachment at the regional scale can be mediated by soil and climate. Climoedaphic properties may therefore help to explain patterns of woody plant dominance. In the Caldenal region of central Argentina, which is experiencing widespread woody plant encroachment, we used stratified and targeted inventory of vegetation and soils alongside climate data to classify vegetation states and then identify factors indicating resistance to woody plant encroachment. We found that three climoedaphic contexts differed in the degree of woody plant dominance. Sandsheet landforms had the lowest likelihood of a shrub thicket state. Within loamy soils, sites with deep soil carbonates in warmer and wetter climates were less likely to feature a shrub thicket state than sites with shallow carbonates in cooler and drier climates. These contexts serve as a basis for recognizing different ecological sites to assist mapping and prioritization of management interventions in the Caldenal region. Simple inventory-based approaches can be helpful for designing land management recommendations in other ecosystems.
  • A Livestock Guardian Dog by Any Other Name: Similar Response to Wolves Across Livestock Guardian Dog Breeds

    Kinka, D.; Young, J.K. (Society for Range Management, 2018-07)
    Nonlethal tools for reducing livestock depredations, such as livestock guardian dogs (LGDs; Canis familiaris), reduce lethal management of livestock predators and have been widely adopted by domestic sheep (Ovis aries) producers in the United States. However, compared with their success in reducing coyote (Canis latrans) depredations, commonly used LGD breeds appear less effective against wolves (Canis lupus). With more than 30 distinct LGD breeds found throughout the world, certain breeds may be more effective at deterring specific threats. We compared LGD breeds commonly used in the United States, collectively called whitedogs, with three European breeds selected for boldness toward carnivores, history of use in areas with wolves, lack of aggression toward humans, and size. We collected data on LGD behavior with sheep herds in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming in 2015 and 2016. We also developed a test to examine LGDs’ response to a simulated encounter with a wolf while on summer grazing range. Results from generalized linear mixed models of proportion of time spent in a given behavior indicate that few significant behavioral differences exist among tested breeds. Kangals tended to be more investigative when engaging a decoy, karakachans more vigilant, and transmontanos more able to decipher a threatening from unthreatening stimulus. Transmontanos also spent less time scanning than whitedogs, and there was a marginally significant effect of karakachans moving more than whitedogs. While these subtle behavioral differences may help livestock producers make tailored decisions in choosing the appropriate LGD for their needs and circumstance, our results suggest that behavioral differences among breeds may be less common than often suggested.
  • Assessment of Animal-Based Methods Used for Estimating and Monitoring Rangeland Herbivore Diet Composition

    Garnick, S.; Barboza, P.S.; Walker, J.W. (Society for Range Management, 2018-07)
    Researchers and managers need effective tools for monitoring the use of forages by large herbivores. Since 2000, the number of herbivore diet studies has nearly doubled. In this review, we determine trends in the field; assess the utility of key techniques against five criteria (cost, accuracy and precision, resolution, utility for long-term monitoring programs, and appropriateness for browsers and grazers); and make recommendations to give managers appropriate tools. Three techniques stand out: microhistology, near infrared reflectance spectroscopy, and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) barcoding. Microhistology has a long history of use in rangelands and is often considered the gold standard for understanding diet composition, albeit at a high cost of labor. Near infrared reflectance spectroscopy can resolve the presence of target groups or species more quickly than microhistology, especially for grazers. DNA barcoding provides the greatest resolution of dietary items with less quantitative certainty than microhistology. The costs associated with DNA barcoding come primarily from technology and sequencing, while in microhistology they are associated with labor. Therefore, an improved, streamlined microhistology method could provide rangeland managers a rapid and cost-effective method for diet monitoring. Ultimately, the complex challenges facing rangeland managers today may require the use of more than one method to achieve acceptable resolution within actionable time frames.
  • Demographic and Density Response of Northern Bobwhites to Pyric Herbivory of Non-Native Grasslands

    Grahmann, E.D.; Fulbright, T.E.; Hernández, F.; Hehman, M.W.; Wester, D.B.; Ortega-Santos, A.; Martin, B.A. (Society for Range Management, 2018-07)
    Usable space for northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) has declined significantly over the past 3 decades in Texas because non-native grasses have replaced native vegetation. We hypothesized that burning patches in pastures dominated by buffelgrass (Pennisetum ciliare) and Old World bluestems (Bothriochloa spp. and Dichanthium spp.) followed by livestock grazing would increase limiting habitat attributes, thereby increasing usable space and bobwhite demographic parameters and population densities. Our study was conducted during 2009–2011 in LaSalle County, Texas on a ranch dominated by non-native grasses. Our experimental design was composed of 2 blocks with two 240-ha pastures, one control (graze only), and one treatment (patch-burn and graze) in each. We estimated grass standing crop in grazing exclosures (June–September) and habitat attributes along transects (October) 2009–2011. Bobwhites were captured and monitored via radiotelemetry 2–3 times/wk during March–November. Means of vegetation metrics important to bobwhites such as bare ground, traversibility, and forb and subshrub cover were similar between control and treatment units in post-treatment years. However, grass standing crop tended to be lower in treatment (June and August 2010 and September 2011—110.5 ± 26.2 g/m2) compared with control units (June and August 2010 and September 2011—145.5 ± 58.6 g/m2). Plant species richness was also greater (21%) in treatment (4.6 ± 0.4/0.1 m2) compared with control units (3.8 ± 0.4/0.1 m2) during the last year of the study (P ≥ 0.057). Patch heterogeneity was increased in treatment units. There was an increase in bobwhite densities in treatment units, although demographic metrics remained similar between treatment and controls. Patch burning and grazing is a viable tool for managing monotypic non-native grasslands for bobwhites in semiarid environments.