Location: Range Management ResearchTitle: Adapting to climate change on desert rangelands: A multi-site comparison of grazing behavior plasticity of heritage and improved beef cattle
|CIBILS, ANDRES - New Mexico State University|
|Estell, Richard - Rick|
|NUAMURYEKUNG'E, SHELEMIA - New Mexico State University|
|MCINTOSH, MATTHEW - New Mexico State University|
|DUNI, D - New Mexico State University|
|HERRERA-CONEGLIANO, O - Instituto Nacional De Tecnologia Agropecuaria|
|RODRIGUEZ ALMEIDA, F - Universidad Autonoma De Chihuahua|
|ROACHO, ESTRADA - Universidad Autonoma De Chihuahua|
|BLANCO, L - Instituto Nacional Tecnologia Agropecuaria|
|DUNIWAY, MICHEAL - Us Geological Survey (USGS)|
|UTSUMI, SANTIAGO - New Mexico State University|
Submitted to: Journal of Arid Environments
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/19/2022
Publication Date: 11/2/2022
Citation: Cibils, A.F., Estell, R.E., Spiegal, S.A., Nuamuryekung'E, S., McIntosh, M.M., Duni, D.M., Herrera-Conegliano, O.A., Rodriguez Almeida, F.A., Roacho, E.O., Blanco, L.J., Duniway, M.C., Utsumi, S.A., Gonzalez, A.L. 2022. Adapting to climate change on desert rangelands: A multi-site comparison of grazing behavior plasticity of heritage and improved beef cattle. Journal of Arid Environments. 209: Article 104886. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaridenv.2022.104886.
Interpretive Summary: Strategies are needed to help producers cope with increasing variability of rainfall and vegetation in the desert southwest. We examined foraging plasticity as a potential mechanism for beef production adaptation to climate change in arid regions. Eight studies conducted at five locations were compiled to examine if seasonal and year to year plasticity in four behavior attributes differed between conventional beef breeds and Criollo cattle. Criollo cattle showed a greater seasonal adjustment in daily travel (20% increase vs. 2% decrease for conventional breeds) and grazing effort (25% increase vs. 2% incease) during dormant/brown compared to the growing/green season. The daily area explored in dormant vs growing season was numerically larger (3 fold) for Criollo but was not statistically different. The time spent grazing in dormancy vs. growing season was similar for both breeds (about 5% less in dormancy). During the growing season, behavior adjustments for dry vs. wet years was similar between breeds, but the adjustment in area explored per day during dormancy was three fold greater for Croillo in dry years. These results suggest grazing behavior plasticity in Criollo cattle could be an important trait for beef producers in arid regions in the face of increased rainfall variability associated with climate change.
Technical Abstract: Climate change is amplifying the spatiotemporal heterogeneity of desert rangelands through its impact on rainfall variability. Foraging plasticity could be a key behavioral trait for climate adaptation of beef cattle in arid environments. We analyzed secondary data from eight studies conducted at rangeland sites in North and South America to determine whether seasonal and year-to-year plasticity of GPS-derived key movement and activity metrics of Criollo (CR) and commercial beef (CB) cattle varied significantly between breeds. Compared to CB, CR exhibited significantly greater seasonal adjustment in daily distance traveled (20% increase vs. 2% decrease, P = 0.02) and daily grazing effort (25% vs. 1.5% increase, P = 0.01) during the dormant/brown (D/B) vs. growing/green (G/G) season. Relative to G/G, increase in daily area explored during D/B, was almost three times greater in CR vs. CB but breed differences were only marginally significant (P ~ 0.10). Seasonal adjustment in daily time spent grazing was similar for CR and BC; both breeds spent roughly 4.5% less time grazing during D/B vs. G/G. Increase in daily area explored during D/B of dry vs. wet years was three times greater for CR vs. CB (P = 0.03). CR tended (P = 0.09) to exhibit greater behavior adjustment than CB in daily distance traveled during D/B of dry vs. wet years (22% vs. 4% increase, respectively). No breed differences in adjustment of time spent grazing (P = 0.36) or grazing effort (P = 0.20) during D/B of dry vs. wet years were observed. Dry vs. wet year grazing behavior adjustments during G/G were similar for both breeds. Grazing behavior plasticity observed in CR cows could be a critical trait for desert beef herds in the face of increasingly variable rainfall patterns occurring as a result of climate change.