Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/4/2010
Publication Date: 2/6/2011
Citation: Thacker, E.T., Gillen, R.L., Gunter, S.A., Springer, T.L. 2011. Herbicide Control of Sand Sagebrush: Impacts on Lesser Prairie Chicken Habitat [abstract]. Society for Range Management Annual Meeting, February 6-11, 2011, Billings, MT. 2011 CDROM.
Technical Abstract: Traditional management of rangelands dominated by sand sagebrush (Artemisia filifolia) has centered around removal of sagebrush to increase forage for livestock production. There has been both concern and support over shrub control strategies when managing lesser prairie-chicken (LPC, Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) habitat. The objective of this research was to determine what impacts chemical control of sand sagebrush may have on LPC habitat values. The study was conducted in a southern mixed prairie sand sagebrush community in western Oklahoma, pastures ranged in size from 10 to 21 ha. Five pastures were sprayed with 2,4 dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) in 2003 (RECENT), 6 were sprayed with 2,4-D before 1994 (INTERMIDIATE), and 4 received no brush control (CONTROL). Sagebrush cover, visual obstruction (VO), forb density, basal grass cover and grass hopper density were measured on all pastures. Sagebrush cover and VO estimates were greatest in CONTROL pastures and lowest in RECENT pastures. Perennial Forbs important to LPC were most abundant in CONTROL pastures and least abundant in RECENT pastures. Annual forbs important to LPC were most abundant in INTERMEDIATE pastures; there were no differences between CONTROL and RECENT pastures. Grass hopper densities did not differ among the 3 treatments. CONTROL pastures provided the most abundant escape cover while providing food for LPC. These results suggest that 2,4-D reduces escape cover and perennial forbs important to LPC. Thus, use of 2,4-D is not be appropriate for improving LPC habitat, because it reduced escape cover and important food sources.