Herbivore species and grazing intensity regulate community composition and an encroaching woody plant in semi-arid rangeland Academic Article uri icon


  • Grazing by livestock can influence ecosystems in various ways, including altering plant communities, influencing woody plant encroachment, and determining livestock productivity. Evaluating long term effects of grazing on plant composition is valuable not only to understand herbivory on rangelands but to be able to address the primary factors that can threaten long term livestock productivity. We examined plant species composition and woody plant encroachment 45 years after the initiation of differing grazing treatments within a semiarid savanna of the southern Great Plains, USA. Grazing treatments varied in herbivore type (domestic cattle, sheep, and goats vs. goats only) and grazing intensity (heavy, moderate, and no-herbivory). All individual trees of . Juniperus ashei Buchholz, the encroaching woody plant of the area, were removed prior to treatment initiation. Moderate and heavy grazing by a combination of species resulted in similar plant communities, while a history of heavy browsing by goats only and no-herbivory resulted in more distinct communities. Cover of . J. ashei did not differ between mixed grazing and no-herbivory treatments, indicating that grazing was not responsible for woody plant encroachment. . J. ashei cover within the browsed treatment was a third less compared to other treatments; compositional differences within this treatment are possibly due to reduced cover of woody vegetation. Declines in livestock productivity of the area are likely related to compositional changes resulting from increased woody plants. Livestock production within this semi-arid rangeland is likely unsustainable without management of woody plant encroachment, as communities tend to a closed canopy woodland. 2012 Gesellschaft fr kologie.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 7.65

author list (cited authors)

  • Allred, B. W., Fuhlendorf, S. D., Smeins, F. E., & Taylor, C. A.

citation count

  • 31

complete list of authors

  • Allred, Brady W||Fuhlendorf, Samuel D||Smeins, Fred E||Taylor, Charles A

publication date

  • January 2012