2013 Annual Report
1)transitions/thresholds in ecological phases and states,.
2)plant community heterogeneity,.
3)mechanisms and risk of weed invasion, and D) temporal dynamics of key ecological indicators of rangeland health in northern mixed-grass prairie. In FY 2013, efforts were completed addressing the data quality and control of a ten-year cow-calf grazing experiment where season-long (June-September) grazing was compared to early season (June-July) and late season (August-September) grazing. Forage production, livestock production and soil carbon and nitrogen are being evaluated. Additionally, we have continued evaluations of numerous ecosystem responses to management practices involving yearling steer grazing (long-term stocking rate study, alteration of existing stocking rates from heavy to light or no grazing, and longer rest periods >1 year). These responses include animal weight gains, plant productivity, plant composition and diversity, and vegetation structure. Work by this project will ultimately result in the development of grazing management strategies that are desirable for enhancing ecosystem services and achieving contemporary conservation objectives while still providing necessary livestock production. In addition, ecological information regarding how this rangeland ecosystem responds to grazing season and stocking rate (including the reduction of stocking rates after a prior history of heavy grazing) will be useful to land managers. To ensure accountability in the mutual expectations of this collaboration, ADODR meets with leadership and members of the 8A Hay and Cattle Company on at least a monthly basis to discuss research findings. In addition, ADODR presents a summary of the research findings to the 8A Hay and Cattle Company at the end of the year.