RANGELAND RESEARCH TO INCREASE ECOLOGICAL AND MANAGERIAL KNOWLEDGE
Location: Rangeland Resources Research
Project Number: 5409-22610-002-04
Specific Cooperative Agreement
Start Date: Sep 15, 2009
End Date: Sep 14, 2014
Evaluate how management practices (e.g., grazing) and disturbance processes (e.g., fire and prairie dogs) interact to influence: (1) plant communities (specifically transitions and thresholds); (2) heterogeneity of plant communities and nesting habitat for grassland birds; (3) mechanisms and risks of weed invasions; and (4) spatial and temporal dynamics of ecological indicators of rangeland health.
Livestock weight gains will be compared from pastures with: (1) differing acreage; (2) differing management (e.g., stocking rates, season of use); (3) differing disturbance processes (e.g., patch fire, prairie dogs); (4) abundance of shrubs; and (5) relative contribution of upland/lowland topography. In addition, additional data (livestock behavior, grazing patterns, wildlife habitat structure, soil nutrient dynamics, forage quality/quantity and abundance of cactus) will be used to assist in the assessment of management and disturbance effects on ecosystem function/structure/production. Additional experiments will be designed to investigate the larger scale effects of adaptive management for addressing the interface of contemporary livestock production and conservation goals. Techniques such as remote sensing will be utilized to characterize spatial and temporal dynamics of ecological indicators of rangeland health as well as shrub abundance. Long-term livestock gains (from 1939) from light, moderate and heavy grazing intensities will be evaluated to determine if relationships exist between intra-annual and inter-annual variability in precipitation and gains to assess potential influences of climate change on livestock production in shortgrass steppe.