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1 November 2011 Sheep Bedding in the Centennial Mountains of Montana and Idaho: Effects on Vegetation
Steven. S. Seefeldt, April B. Leytem
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In summer, bands of sheep are grazed in western North American mountains. At night the sheep are concentrated into bedding areas. In the study area, each bedding area is only utilized by sheep for one night a year for 2 out of 3 years. Vegetation in the bedding areas was compared to vegetation outside these areas. Both perennial forb cover and total perennial cover were greater outside (48% and 61%, respectively) than inside (29% and 36%, respectively) the bedding areas. Annual forb cover one year after sheep grazing was greater inside (17%) bedding areas than outside (5%). Immediately after sheep bedding, total forb cover was greater outside the bedding areas. Forb and grass biomass were greater outside the bedding areas compared to inside. Total vegetation biomass outside (240 g · m-2) the bedding areas was more than double the amount inside (86 g · m-2) immediately after bedding. In the year after bedding, vegetation biomass inside the bedding areas increased, but was still less than outside. Sheep bedding areas were not invaded by nonnative plants. Sheep bedding reduced vegetation quantity and changed relative abundance of annual forbs. Vegetation in the bedding areas was resilient to grazing impacts, and long-term use of sites in this ecosystem does not significantly degrade vegetation.

© 2011
Steven. S. Seefeldt and April B. Leytem "Sheep Bedding in the Centennial Mountains of Montana and Idaho: Effects on Vegetation," Western North American Naturalist 71(3), 361-373, (1 November 2011).
Received: 25 January 2010; Accepted: 1 April 2011; Published: 1 November 2011
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