Response of mountain meadows to grazing by recreational pack stock

David N. Cole, Jan W. Van Wagtendonk, Mitchel McClaran, Peggy E. Moore, Neil K. McDougald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Effects of recreational pack stock grazing on mountain meadows in Yosemite National Park were assessed in a 5-year study. Yosemite is a designated wilderness, to be managed such that its natural conditions are preserved. Studies were conducted in 3 characteristic meadow types: shorthair sedge (Carex filifolia Nutt.), Brewer's reed grass (Calamagrostis breweri Thurber), and tufted hairgrass [Deschampsia cespitosa (L.) Beauv.]. Horses and mules grazed experimental plots at intensities of 15 to 69% utilization for 4 seasons. In all 3 meadows, grazing caused decreases in productivity. The mean reduction after 4 years of grazing was 18% in the shorthair sedge meadow, 17% in the Brewer's reed grass meadow, and 22% in the tufted hairgrass meadow. Grazing also caused shifts in basal groundcover (usually a reduction in vegetation cover and increase in bare soil cover), and changes in species composition. Productivity and vegetation cover decreased as percent utilization increased, while bare soil cover increased as utilization increased. Changes in species composition were less predictably related to differences in grazing intensity. Passive management of grazing is insufficient in wilderness areas that are regularly used by groups with recreational stock. Wilderness managers need to monitor meadow conditions and the grazing intensities that occur. Our study suggests that biomass and ground cover are more sensitive indicators of grazing impact than species composition. Managers must make decisions about maximum acceptable levels of grazing impact and then develop guidelines for maximum use levels, based on data such as ours that relates grazing intensity to meadow response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-160
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Range Management
Volume57
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2004

Fingerprint

meadow
meadows
grazing
mountains
mountain
Deschampsia cespitosa
wilderness
grazing intensity
Phragmites australis
vegetation cover
species diversity
sedge
soil cover
bare soil
managers
Calamagrostis
mules
grazing management
grass
Carex

Keywords

  • Horses
  • Meadow productivity
  • Mules
  • Utilization
  • Wilderness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology

Cite this

Cole, D. N., Van Wagtendonk, J. W., McClaran, M., Moore, P. E., & McDougald, N. K. (2004). Response of mountain meadows to grazing by recreational pack stock. Journal of Range Management, 57(2), 153-160.

Response of mountain meadows to grazing by recreational pack stock. / Cole, David N.; Van Wagtendonk, Jan W.; McClaran, Mitchel; Moore, Peggy E.; McDougald, Neil K.

In: Journal of Range Management, Vol. 57, No. 2, 03.2004, p. 153-160.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Cole, DN, Van Wagtendonk, JW, McClaran, M, Moore, PE & McDougald, NK 2004, 'Response of mountain meadows to grazing by recreational pack stock', Journal of Range Management, vol. 57, no. 2, pp. 153-160.
Cole DN, Van Wagtendonk JW, McClaran M, Moore PE, McDougald NK. Response of mountain meadows to grazing by recreational pack stock. Journal of Range Management. 2004 Mar;57(2):153-160.
Cole, David N. ; Van Wagtendonk, Jan W. ; McClaran, Mitchel ; Moore, Peggy E. ; McDougald, Neil K. / Response of mountain meadows to grazing by recreational pack stock. In: Journal of Range Management. 2004 ; Vol. 57, No. 2. pp. 153-160.
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