The University of Arizona

Long-term effects of brush management on vegetation diversity in ephemeral drainages.

K.R. Nolte, T.M. Gabor, M.W. Hehman, M.A. Asleson, T.E. Fulbright, J.C. Rutledge

Abstract


There has been recent concern regarding the effects of range management practices on biodiversity. Our objective was to determine the long-term (> 30 years) effects of chaining, and chaining followed by root plowing, on vegetation diversity in an ephemeral drainage system. Plant species richness and diversity were estimated in 2 chained (ca. 1950) areas, 2 chained (ca. 1950) and root-plowed (ca. 1960) areas, and 2 untreated areas during April 1993. Beta diversity within treatments was estimated with mean dissimilarity (l-mean similarity). Mean similarity was quantified with Jaccard's index. Spatial gradient analysis in which pairwise similarities were regressed against the distance between each pair of samples within a site was used to describe similarity within a site. Species richness and diversity were similar among treatments for both herbaceous and woody species. Similarity (Jaccard's index) among transects within a site increased with increasing degree of disturbance. Chained and root plowed sites had lower beta diversity than chained or untreated sites. Similarity in the chained and root plowed sites varied randomly, not spatially, while the control (untreated) and chained sites had negative spatial gradients, indicating spatial heterogeneity within these sites. Although root plowing did not reduce species richness and diversity as reported on upland sites in previous studies, beta diversity and habitat heterogeneity were lower on chained and root plowed sites than on chained or untreated sites.

Keywords


plowing;root plowing;chaining;habitats;brush control;species diversity;woody plants;Texas;range management

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