Ecological Costs of Livestock Grazing in Western North America

Ecological Costs of Livestock Grazing in Western North America Livestock grazing is the most widespread land management practice in western North America. Seventy percent of the western United States is grazed, including wilderness areas, wildlife refuges, national forests, and even some national parks. The ecological costs of this nearly ubiquitous form of land use can be dramatic. Examples of such costs include loss of biodiversity; lowering of population densities for a wide variety of taxa; disruption of ecosystem functions, including nutrient cycling and succession; change in community organization; and change in the physical characteristics of both terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Because livestock congregate in riparian ecosystems, which are among the biologically richest habitats in arid and semiarid regions, the ecological costs of grazing are magnified in these sites. Range science has traditionally been laden with economic assumptions favoring resource use. Conservation biologists are encouraged to contribute to the ongoing social and scientific dialogue on grazing issues. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Conservation Biology Wiley

Ecological Costs of Livestock Grazing in Western North America

Conservation Biology, Volume 8 (3) – Sep 1, 1994

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 1994 Wiley Subscription Services, Inc., A Wiley Company
ISSN
0888-8892
eISSN
1523-1739
D.O.I.
10.1046/j.1523-1739.1994.08030629.x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Livestock grazing is the most widespread land management practice in western North America. Seventy percent of the western United States is grazed, including wilderness areas, wildlife refuges, national forests, and even some national parks. The ecological costs of this nearly ubiquitous form of land use can be dramatic. Examples of such costs include loss of biodiversity; lowering of population densities for a wide variety of taxa; disruption of ecosystem functions, including nutrient cycling and succession; change in community organization; and change in the physical characteristics of both terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Because livestock congregate in riparian ecosystems, which are among the biologically richest habitats in arid and semiarid regions, the ecological costs of grazing are magnified in these sites. Range science has traditionally been laden with economic assumptions favoring resource use. Conservation biologists are encouraged to contribute to the ongoing social and scientific dialogue on grazing issues.

Journal

Conservation BiologyWiley

Published: Sep 1, 1994

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