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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Effects of Rangeland Disturbances on Vegetation and Livestock Grzzing Behavior

Location: Range Sheep Production Efficiency Research

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Determine the effects of various chemical, biological, and(or) mechanical rangeland disturbances on vegetation dynamics and livestock grazing behavior in the sagebrush steppe.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Long-term research will be conducted on healthy and some degraded rangelands. A series of experiments will be designed to define vegetation shifts in response to various rangeland disturbances, such as fire, grazing, herbicide application, tilling, and(or) seeding. Further research will be conducted to define livestock grazing behavior in response to composition and availability of vegetation.

Vegetation data will be used to construct models for predicting vegetation recovery (native, healthy rangelands) or establishment (seeded, degraded rangelands) and time to climax community following various disturbances. Vegetation data will also be used to validate the use of remotely-acquired (i.e., satellite-based, aerial) imagery to assess vegetation cover, distribution, and frequency. Grazing behavior data will be used to construct models for predicting (1) vegetation dynamics in response to grazing activity and (2) livestock performance in response to vegetation type and availability. Grazing data will also be used to validate the use of remotely-acquired (i.e., satellite-based) data to define animal location and activity.


3.Progress Report:

The goal of this agreement it to define vegetation shifts in response to various rangeland disturbances, such as fire, grazing, herbicide application, tilling, and(or) seeding. Progress was made by identifying recently-burned pastures with heavy lupine ssp. infestations. According to lupine density, stocking rates for multispecies grazing, with cattle and sheep, were calculated. In a spring-grazing management system, multispecies grazing will be conducted in summer of FY2014, and grazing behavior of sheep and cattle in response to composition and availability of vegetation will be monitored. This collaboration supported Objective 2 of the parent project, which is focused on developing science-based grazing management strategies and decision support systems that can be used to guide managers to maintain or improve the ecological function of western rangelands.


Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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