Submitted to: Ecological Society of America Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 24, 2011
Publication Date: August 7, 2011
Citation: Augustine, D.J., Derner, J.D. 2011. The conservation-production interface in rangelands: Acknowledging tradeoffs and moving towards win-win solutions. Ecological Society of America Annual conference, Austin, TX, August, 2011. Abstract. Technical Abstract: Provision of wildlife habitat in rangelands, particularly for birds of conservation concern, is increasingly recognized as an important ecosystem service. Accommodating human use is also a key component of ecosystem management. Most remaining grassland bird habitat in the western Great Plains is privately owned and supports livestock, which traditionally have been managed at moderate stocking rates to achieve sustainable livestock production goals. Alternative approaches are needed to simultaneously address production and conservation objectives. We used experimental and observational studies in the shortgrass steppe of eastern Colorado to assess how variable cattle stocking rates, prescribed fire, and black-tailed prairie dogs can be used to create breeding habitat for a grassland bird, the mountain plover (Charadrius montanus). We furthermore evaluated how treatments influenced livestock weight gains. Prescribed fire and grazing by black-tailed prairie dogs were the only effective strategies to create suitable mountain plover breeding habitat, but both have economic tradeoffs in terms of livestock production or implementation costs. Provision of mountain plover habitat clearly has tradeoffs with traditional management for livestock production, highlighting the need for land managers to clearly define desired outcomes for management to provide multiple ecosystem goods and services. We have also studied the interactive role of prescribed fire and livestock grazing in generating spatiotemporal heterogeneity to provide habitat for a diverse suite of grassland birds. Our studies highlight the importance of incorporating multiple management strategies and grazing regimes to enhance vegetation heterogeneity in rangeland landscapes. The spatial pattern in which strategies are implemented may provide opportunities to maximize conservation benefits while minimizing impacts to livestock producers.