The University of Arizona

Herbage productivity and ungulate use of northeastern Nevada mountain meadows

Jeffrey L. Beck, James M. Peek

Abstract


The effects of grazing by cattle (Bos taurus) and recently reestablished elk (Cervus elaphus) on mountain meadows in northeastern Nevada are poorly understood. We evaluated production, use, and species richness of herbage standing crop in and outside 3 meadow exclosures in northeastern Nevada's Jarbidge Mountains across 3 seasons in 1999 and 2000. Treatments included control, wildlife (mainly big game), and cattle. There was less forb standing crop in fall than in early or mid-summer, but no difference in forb standing crop from early to mid-summer across all treatments. There were no differences in graminoid standing crop among treatments in 1999, while there was significantly less graminoid crop in cattle treatments in 2000 than in the control or wildlife treatments. Species lists in exclosures and cattle treatments overlapped 48.9–68.4%. Clipping treatments to evaluate effects of use on yearly productivity were light use (13.3–24.7%) and total use (clipped to ground) in early and mid-summer, and control. There was no difference in fall or graminoid herbage between controls and quadrats clipped lightly in early summer and mid-summer and there was no difference in forb or graminoid yield (seasonally clipped herbage plus end of growing season herbage) in clipped quadrats and controls. Across years, forbs and graminoids clipped to ground in early summer and mid-summer regrew by fall to no more than 19.2, 4.2, 24.7, and 10.0%, respectively, of the amount in control quadrats. Managers should consider delaying cattle grazing until late summer on mountain meadows used consistently by elk in early summer.

DOI:10.2458/azu_jrm_v57i4_beck


Keywords


elk; cattle; Cervus elaphus; clipping treatments; compensation; grazing exclosures; meadow production; species richness; utilization

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