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1 November 2006 Grazing and Grazing Exclusion Effects on New Mexico Shortgrass Prairie
Jerry L. Holechek, Dee Galt, Godfrey Khumalo
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Vegetative differences and changes were evaluated over a 6-year period (1999–2004) on adjoining conservatively grazed and grazing-excluded (22 years) shortgrass rangelands in northwestern New Mexico. Autumn total perennial grass and blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis [Willd. ex Kunth] Lag. Griffiths) standing crop did not differ on grazed and grazing-excluded areas when data were averaged across years. There were no long-term differences in vegetation basal cover or composition between the grazed and grazing-excluded areas. Plant community similarity values between the grazed and grazing-excluded areas were 80% and 93% during the first 2 years (1999–2000) and last 2 years (2003–2004) of study, respectively. Climatic conditions had more impact on vegetation composition of the 2 areas than livestock grazing. Similarity values between 1999–2000 and 2003–2004 periods were 52% and 64% for the grazed and grazing-excluded plant communities, respectively. At the beginning of our study, blue grama productivity was depressed on the grazed area compared to the exclosure, but after 3 years of conservative winter grazing, it was similar on the 2 areas. Our study indicates there is no benefit to blue grama rangelands from long-term rest from the standpoint of vegetation composition.

Jerry L. Holechek, Dee Galt, and Godfrey Khumalo "Grazing and Grazing Exclusion Effects on New Mexico Shortgrass Prairie," Rangeland Ecology and Management 59(6), 655-659, (1 November 2006).
Received: 5 October 2005; Accepted: 1 July 2006; Published: 1 November 2006

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