Riparian Meadow Response to Modern Conservation Grazing Management

Riparian Meadow Response to Modern Conservation Grazing Management Riparian meadows occupy a small proportion of the public lands in the western United States but they provide numerous ecosystem services, including the production of high-quality forage for livestock grazing. Modern conservation management strategies (e.g., reductions in livestock stocking rates and adoption of new riparian grazing standards) have been implemented to better balance riparian conservation and livestock production objectives on publicly managed lands. We examined potential relationships between long-term changes in plant community, livestock grazing pressure and environmental conditions at two spatial scales in meadows grazed under conservation management strategies. Changes in plant community were not associated with either livestock stocking rate or precipitation at the grazing allotment (i.e., administrative) scale. Alternatively, both grazing pressure and precipitation had significant, albeit modest, associations with changes in plant community at the meadow (i.e., ecological site) scale. These results suggest that reductions in stocking rate have improved the balance between riparian conservation and livestock production goals. However, associations between elevation, site wetness, precipitation, and changes in plant community suggest that changing climate conditions (e.g., reduced snowpack and changes in timing of snowmelt) could trigger shifts in plant communities, potentially impacting both conservation and agricultural services (e.g., livestock and forage production). Therefore, adaptive, site-specific management strategies are required to meet grazing pressure limits and safeguard ecosystem services within individual meadows, especially under more variable climate conditions. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Environmental Management Springer Journals

Riparian Meadow Response to Modern Conservation Grazing Management

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Publisher
Springer US
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 by The Author(s)
Subject
Environment; Environmental Management; Ecology; Nature Conservation; Atmospheric Protection/Air Quality Control/Air Pollution; Forestry Management; Waste Water Technology / Water Pollution Control / Water Management / Aquatic Pollution
ISSN
0364-152X
eISSN
1432-1009
D.O.I.
10.1007/s00267-017-0897-1
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Riparian meadows occupy a small proportion of the public lands in the western United States but they provide numerous ecosystem services, including the production of high-quality forage for livestock grazing. Modern conservation management strategies (e.g., reductions in livestock stocking rates and adoption of new riparian grazing standards) have been implemented to better balance riparian conservation and livestock production objectives on publicly managed lands. We examined potential relationships between long-term changes in plant community, livestock grazing pressure and environmental conditions at two spatial scales in meadows grazed under conservation management strategies. Changes in plant community were not associated with either livestock stocking rate or precipitation at the grazing allotment (i.e., administrative) scale. Alternatively, both grazing pressure and precipitation had significant, albeit modest, associations with changes in plant community at the meadow (i.e., ecological site) scale. These results suggest that reductions in stocking rate have improved the balance between riparian conservation and livestock production goals. However, associations between elevation, site wetness, precipitation, and changes in plant community suggest that changing climate conditions (e.g., reduced snowpack and changes in timing of snowmelt) could trigger shifts in plant communities, potentially impacting both conservation and agricultural services (e.g., livestock and forage production). Therefore, adaptive, site-specific management strategies are required to meet grazing pressure limits and safeguard ecosystem services within individual meadows, especially under more variable climate conditions.

Journal

Environmental ManagementSpringer Journals

Published: Jun 2, 2017

References

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