Recent opposition to the rangeland management paradigm of achieving uniform, moderate grazing across entire landscapes has emerged because heterogeneity is recognized as the foundation of biodiversity, ecosystem resilience, and multifunctionality of agricultural landscapes. Agriculture production goals appear to drive the traditional rangeland management focus on homogeneity and uniformity. To determine if preference for homogeneity is a broadly applicable social construct or one limited to agricultural producers, we determined preferences for heterogeneous grassland landscapes expressed by three study populations—managers of working lands (ranchers), natural resource professionals (grassland/rangeland specialists), and the general population living in rangeland regions within the US Great Plains. We distributed surveys that included photographs of landscapes and patterned images to assess preference. Preference for heterogeneous landscapes among ranchers, natural resource professionals, and the general population in our study area were generally consistent with the central paradigm of managing rangeland for homogeneity. However, we discovered that people, across geographic location and population group, clearly prefer heterogeneous patterned images to homogeneous patterned images. This suggests that preference for homogeneity is acquired.
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