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Title: Prescribed fire effects on resource selection by cattle in mesic sagebrush steppe. Part 2: Mid-summer grazing

Author
item Clark, Pat
item Lee, Jaechoul - Boise State University
item Ko, Kyungduk - Boise State University
item Nielson, Ryan - Western Ecosystems Tech, Inc
item Johnson, Douglas - Oregon State University
item Ganskopp, David
item Pierson, Fred
item Hardegree, Stuart

Submitted to: Journal of Arid Environments
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/6/2015
Publication Date: 5/5/2016
Citation: Clark, P., Lee, J., Ko, K., Nielson, R.M., Johnson, D.E., Ganskopp, D.C., Pierson Jr, F.B., Hardegree, S.P. 2016. Prescribed fire effects on resource selection by cattle in mesic sagebrush steppe. Part 2: Mid-summer grazing. Journal of Arid Environments. 124:398-412. doi: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2015.03.005.

Interpretive Summary: Efficacy of using prescribed fire to manipulate livestock distribution on mesic sagebrush steppe rangelands has received little research attention. Beginning in 2001, resource selection by beef cows under a mid-summer (July) grazing regime was evaluated using global positioning system (GPS) collars for 2 years prior to and for up to 5 years after a fall prescribed fire was conducted on mesic sagebrush steppe in the Owyhee Mountains of southwestern Idaho, USA. Cattle selected for burned areas in the uplands during the first, second, and fifth postfire years and reduced occupation of near-stream habitats during the second postfire year. These findings indicate livestock producers and natural resource managers can use prescribed fire in mesic sagebrush steppe to attract cattle into the uplands thereby reducing cattle use and consequent impacts in riparian areas.

Technical Abstract: Prescribed fire can release herbaceous forages from woody plant competition thus promoting increased forage plant production, vigor, and accessibility. Prescribe fire also consumes standing litter thereby improving forage quality and palatability. Consequently, prescribed fire is commonly considered an effective tool for manipulating livestock distribution on rangelands. Efficacy of this tool on mesic sagebrush steppe, however, has received little research attention. Beginning in 2001, resource selection by beef cows under a mid-summer (July) grazing regime was evaluated using global positioning system (GPS) collars for 2 years prior to and for up to 5 years after a fall prescribed fire was conducted on mesic sagebrush steppe in the Owyhee Mountains of southwestern Idaho, USA. Cattle selected for burned areas during the first, second, and fifth postfire years. Cattle had exhibited neutral selectivity towards these areas, during one of the two prefire years. Burning in the uplands reduced cattle use of near-stream habitats but only during the second postfire year. Differences in phenological timing of grazing may account for differences in cattle response to burning noted between this study and one conducted nearby under a spring (May) grazing regime. This is a case study and caution should be taken in extrapolating these results.