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1 January 2005 Interactive Effects of Drought and Grazing on Northern Great Plains Rangelands
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Drought is common in rangeland environments and an understanding of its impacts on the structure and function of rangeland ecosystems is paramount for developing effective management strategies. This research was the second of a series of studies investigating the impacts of varying seasonal droughts on northern Great Plains rangelands. Research was conducted on native rangeland during the 1998 through 2001 growing seasons. Study plots were twelve 5 × 10 m nonweighing lysimeters. An automated rainout shelter was used to establish drought conditions on 6 lysimeters during April, May, and June of 1998 and 1999. Single-day, flash grazing events were imposed at the beginning of May, June, and July. Grazing treatments were 1) graze during the 2 years of drought and the year after; 2) graze during the 2 years of drought and rest the year after; and 3) rest all years. Results showed that the intense spring drought reduced soil water content in the upper 30 cm of the soil profile and subsequently reduced total herbage production 20% to 40%; cool-season perennial grasses were the primary contributor to the reduction and cool-season annual grasses were secondary. Periodic grazing during drought had minimal impact on herbage production, whereas impacts on nondrought plots ranged from moderate enhancement to moderate suppression, with effects varying depending on functional group. Results also showed that substantial recovery occurred during the 1st postdrought year, with near full recovery realized within 2 years.

R. K. Heitschmidt, K. D. Klement, and M. R. Haferkamp "Interactive Effects of Drought and Grazing on Northern Great Plains Rangelands," Rangeland Ecology and Management 58(1), 11-19, (1 January 2005).<11:IEODAG>2.0.CO;2
Received: 10 July 2003; Accepted: 6 June 2004; Published: 1 January 2005

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