The University of Arizona

Cattle Grazing and Yosemite Toad (Bufo canorus Camp) Breeding Habitat in Sierra Nevada Meadows

L. M. Roche, B. Allen-Diaz, D. J. Eastburn, K. W. Tate

Abstract


Exclusion of cattle by fencing has been proposed to alleviate possible negative grazing impacts on hydrologic, water quality, and cover habitat conditions within Sierra Nevada meadows used by Yosemite toads (Bufo canorus Camp) for breeding. Our objectives were to: 1) determine associations between breeding pool habitat conditions and use of potential breeding pools by toads; and 2) determine how habitat conditions respond to cattle exclusion treatments on the Sierra National Forest, California. We randomly selected two toad occupied and two unoccupied breeding pools in each of nine meadows for this study (n536 breeding pools). After baseline data collection in 2006, three meadow fencing treatments were implemented over the course of 3 yr. Treatments were fencing to exclude cattle from the entire meadow; fencing to exclude cattle from toad breeding and rearing areas, with grazing allowed in the remaining unfenced portion of the meadow; and cattle grazing allowed across entire meadow. We monitored hydrologic, water quality, and cover habitat variables as well as toad occupancy during the breeding seasons of 2006 through 2008. Concentrations of water quality constituents were uniformly low all years regardless of treatment. Occupied pools were shallower, warmer, and more nitrogen enriched than unoccupied breeding pools. We found no evidence of improved toad breeding pool habitat conditions following fencing compared to standard US Forest Service grazing management.

 

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