Simulation of vegetation dynamics and management strategies on south Texas, semi-arid rangeland. Academic Article uri icon


  • In this paper, we describe a model designed to simulate seasonal dynamics of warm and cool season grasses and forbs, as well as the dynamics of woody plant succession through five seral stages, in each of nine different plant communities on the Rob and Bessie Welder Wildlife Refuge. The Welder Wildlife Refuge (WWR) is located in the Gulf Coastal Prairies and Marshes ecoregion of Texas. The model utilizes and integrates data from a wide array of research projects that have occurred in south Texas and WWR. It is designed to investigate the effects of alternative livestock grazing programs and brush control practices, with particular emphasis on prescribed burning, the preferred treatment for brush on the WWR. We evaluated the model by simulating changes in the plant communities under historical (1974-2000) temperature, rainfall, livestock grazing rotation, and brush control regimes, and comparing simulation results to field data on herbaceous biomass and brush canopy cover collected on the WWR over the same period. We then used the model to simulate the effects of 13 alternative management schemes, under each of four weather regimes, over the next 25 years. We found that over the simulation period, years 1974-2000, the model does well in simulating the magnitude and seasonality of herbaceous biomass production and changes in percent brush canopy cover on the WWR. It also does well in simulating the effects of variations in cattle stocking rates, grazing rotation programs, and brush control regimes on plant communities, thus providing insight into the combined effects of temperature, precipitation, cattle stocking rates, grazing rotation programs, and brush control on the overall productivity and state of woody plant succession on the WWR. Simulation of alternative management schemes suggests that brush canopy removal differs little between summer and winter prescribed burn treatments when precipitation remains near the long-term average, but during periods of low precipitation canopy removal is greater under winter prescribed burning. The model provides a useful tool to assist refuge personnel with developing long-term brush management and livestock grazing strategies.

published proceedings

  • J Environ Manage

author list (cited authors)

  • Glasscock, S. N., Grant, W. E., & Drawe, D. L.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Glasscock, Selma N||Grant, William E||Drawe, D Lynn

publication date

  • June 2005