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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Restoring and Managing Great Basin Ecosystems

Location: Range and Meadow Forage Management Research

Title: Cattle grazing and vegetation succession on burned sagebrush steppe

Authors
item Bates, Jonathan
item Davies, Kirk

Submitted to: Rangeland Ecology and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 2, 2014
Publication Date: July 11, 2014
Repository URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/59377
Citation: Bates, J.D., Davies, K.W. 2014. Cattle grazing and vegetation succession on burned sagebrush steppe. Rangeland Ecology and Management. 67:412-422. DOI: 10.2111/REM-D-14-00011.1.

Interpretive Summary: There is limited information on the effects of cattle grazing to longer-term plant community composition and productivity following fire in big sagebrush steppe. This study evaluated vegetation response to cattle grazing over seven years (2007-2013) on burned big steppe in eastern Oregon. Vegetation cover, productivity, and yield did not differ among low and moderate grazing use and non-use areas; however, high grazing use resulted in lower cover and productivity. We concluded that light to moderate stocking rates are applicable to sustainable grazing of burned sagebrush steppe rangelands.

Technical Abstract: There is limited information on the effects of cattle grazing to longer-term plant community composition and productivity following fire in big sagebrush steppe. This study evaluated vegetation response to cattle grazing over seven years (2007-2013) on burned Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis (Beetle & Young) Welsh) steppe in eastern Oregon. Treatments, replicated 4 times and applied in a randomized block design, included no grazing on burned (NON-USE) and unburned (CONTROL) sagebrush steppe; and grazing at low (LOW), moderate (MODERATE), and high (HIGH) stocking. Vegetation dynamics were evaluated by quantifying herbaceous (canopy and basal cover, density, annual yield, reproductive shoot weight) and shrub (canopy cover, density) response variables. Differences in herbaceous response variables among LOW, MODERATE, and NON-USE treatments were nonexistent or minor and no major compositional changes occurred. The HIGH treatment had lower perennial bunchgrass cover and annual yield than other grazed and NON-USE treatments. Bunchgrass density remained unchanged in the HIGH treatment, not differing from other treatments, and reproductive effort was comparable to the other treatments indicating these areas are potentially recoverable by reducing stocking. Cover and yield of Bromus tectorum L. (cheatgrass) did not differ among the grazed and NON-USE treatments, though all were greater than the CONTROL. Cover and density of A.t. spp. wyomingensis did not differ among the grazed and NON-USE treatments and were less than the CONTROL. We conclude that light to moderate stocking rates are applicable to sustainable grazing of burned sagebrush steppe rangelands.

Last Modified: 12/21/2014
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