Submitted to: Wildland Shrub Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/13/2002
Publication Date: 8/13/2002
Citation: STRAIT, K.A., OLSON, R.A., SCHUMAN, G.E., BELDEN, S.E. IMPACTS OF WILDLIFE UTILIZATION ON BIG SAGEBRUSH SURVIVAL ON RECLAIMED MINE LANDS. WILDLAND SHRUB SYMPOSIUM PROCEEDINGS. 2002. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Ensuring Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt ssp. wyomingensis Beetle & Young) survival remains a challenge years after initial establishment on reclaimed mine lands. Wildlife utilization and browse may be a major influence on big sagebrush survival. A wildlife-proof exclosure was erected on a portion of an existing sagebrush establishment research site initiated by Schuman and colleagues in 1990 at the North Antelope/Rochelle Complex mine in northeastern Wyoming. Invesigations focused on the influence of wildlife utilization of big sagebrush and vegetative community composition as affected by grass seeding rates of the original study and the newly constructed exclosure. First year results indicate no significant differences between grass seeding rates and inside or outside of the exclosure. Mean percent cover of grasses and total vegetation were significantly different between grass seeding rates inside the exclosure. Similarity and diversity were not significantly different among grass seeding rates or exclosure treatments. Greater current annual sagebrush leader growth occurred in the higher grass seeding rates inside the exclosure and annual sagebrush leader length was greater in the exclosure points outside the exclosure. The greater sagebrush leader length inside the exclosure points out the level of wildlife utilization occurring on these plants in a single season. Future sampling efforts comparing the exclosed and non-exclosed plots should provide greater evaluation of the impacts of wildlife utilization on plant community development and success on reclaimed mine sites.