Vegetation cover and production were evaluated after nearly 7 years of livestock grazing exclusion and shrub control in an area with a long history of heavy livestock grazing in the southern Chihuahuan Desert, Mexico. An exclosure was established to prevent livestock grazing. In half of the excluded area, the main shrub, Larrea tridentata, was mechanically controlled. Outside the exclosure, heavy livestock grazing occurred as customary and shrubs were not controlled. Absence of grazing resulted in 50% higher grass cover and 35% higher total biomass. Larrea tridentata cover was twice as high on the grazed area as on the ungrazed area. Vegetation cover was dominated by grasses (42%) in the ungrazed area, whereas in the grazed area, cover was equally divided between grasses (28%) and shrubs (27%). Shrub control did not affect vegetation cover or herbage production. Multivariate analysis confirmed that inside the excluded area, shrub control had little impact on the plant community. The effect of grazing, however, clearly distinguished the community outside the exclosure from that inside the exclosure.
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Vol. 67 • No. 1