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1 November 2018 Grazing History Effects on Rangeland Biomass, Cover and Diversity Responses to Fire and Grazing Utilization
Lance T. Vermeire, Dustin J. Strong, Richard C. Waterman
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Exclusion of large grazers from rangelands that evolved with significant grazing pressure can alter natural processes and may have legacy effects by changing magnitude or direction of community responses to subsequent disturbance. Three moderately grazed pastures were paired with 12-ha areas with 15 yr of livestock exclusion. Six treatments were assigned to each in a 2 × 3 factorial arrangement of fire (fall fire or no fire) and grazing utilization (0%, 50%, or 75% biomass removal) to determine grazing history effects on rangeland response to subsequent disturbance. Livestock exclusion increased C3 perennial grass (1 232 vs. 980±50 kg ⋅ ha-1) and forbs (173 vs. 62± 19 kg ⋅ ha-1) and reduced C4 perennial grass (36 vs. 180± 25 kg ⋅ ha-1) with no effect on total current year biomass. Diversity was greater in pastures than exclosures (H' = 1.5400 vs. 1.3823 ± 0.0431). Every biomass, cover, and diversity measure, except subshrub biomass, was affected by fire, grazing utilization, or both. Contrary to expectations, grazing history only interacted with fire effects for old standing dead material and interactions with grazing utilization were limited to old dead, bare ground, richness and dominance. Fire by grazing utilization interaction was limited to bare ground. Fire reduced annual grass (64 vs. 137±29 kg ⋅ ha-1), forbs (84 vs. 133 ± 29 kg ⋅ ha-1), and diversity (H'=1.3260 vs. 1.5005± 0.0537) with no difference in total current-year biomass (1 557 vs. 1 594±66 kg ⋅ ha-1). Grazing to 75% utilization reduced total current-year biomass (1 467 vs. 1 656±66 kg ⋅ ha-1) and dominance (0.4824 vs. 0.5584 ± 0.0279). Grazing history affected starting points for most variables, but changes caused by grazing utilization or fire were similar between pastures and exclosures, indicating management decisions can be made based on independent knowledge of grazing or fire effects.

© 2018 The Society for Range Management. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Lance T. Vermeire, Dustin J. Strong, and Richard C. Waterman "Grazing History Effects on Rangeland Biomass, Cover and Diversity Responses to Fire and Grazing Utilization," Rangeland Ecology and Management 71(6), 770-775, (1 November 2018).
Received: 30 September 2017; Accepted: 2 May 2018; Published: 1 November 2018
grazing management
legacy effects
post-fire grazing
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