The impact of livestock grazing on desert vegetation in Khirthar National Park, Pakistan, was investigated by comparing dry and wet season plant species composition, richness, cover, and a grazing index for quadrats outside (“open”) and inside (“exclosed”) native mammal breeding enclosures that had excluded livestock for 6 years. A total of 93 plant species were recorded in the dry season, 88 species in exclosed quadrats and 50 in open quadrats. While only 5 species were unique to open quadrats, 43 species were found only in the exclosed quadrats. Species richness was higher in the exclosures because of the presence of more grass and herb species, while grazing was higher in the open. After rain, species richness and cover were significantly higher than in the dry season because of the growth of summer ephemeral herbs and grasses, but richness was no longer different between the exclosure and open treatments. Although some herbaceous species may have been adversely affected by livestock grazing, overall species richness suggests strong ecosystem resilience to grazing, with levels no different after seasonal rains regardless of grazing level. Many grass and herb species absent from open sites during the dry season reappeared after rain, which suggests that livestock grazing may eliminate them as the dry season proceeds, but that a soil seed or bud bank persists.
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Vol. 60 • No. 6