Effect of Rancher’s Management Philosophy, Grazing Practices, and Personal Characteristics on Sustainability Indices for North Central Texas Rangeland Page: 12
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Integrity of the Biotic Community
The central assertion of a relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem function is
that greater diversity is associated with higher ecosystem stability. Heterogeneity is the
precursor to biological diversity at most levels of ecological organization and should serve as the
foundation for conservation and ecosystem management (Christensen, 2003). Rangelands have
been described as inherently heterogeneous because composition, productivity, and diversity are
highly variable across multiple scales (Ludwig and Tongway, 1995; Fuhlendorf and Smeins,
1998). Mac Arthur (1972) suggested that with increases of alternative pathways for energy flow
within an ecosystem, the less likely that pathway destruction or disruption would unsettle the
system. Supporting these claims McCann (2000), notes that decreasing biodiversity will be
accompanied by less but stronger interactions within ecosystems and a decrease in ecosystem
stability (Deregibus et al., 2001).
A heterogeneous patchwork on rangelands can result from differential timing of
disturbances and corresponding out-of-phase succession among patches, spatial variability of
resources associated with topographic and edaphic patterns, or competitive interactions among
plant species (Fuhlendorf and Smeins, 1998; Fuhlendorf and Engle, 2001). Further, plant species
diversity and richness are affected by grazing management. Grazing enhances diversity at low
rates but reduces it at high rates (Mariott et al., 2009). The duration of agricultural intensification
appears to set the rate of recovery, with high variability between situations (Bakker and
It is also important to consider observations of the impacts of grazing on species diversity
associated with non-plant species. Sward structure usually changes rapidly after a reduction in
management intensity. Reduction of agriculture-use intensity generally results in more dead
material and more height heterogeneity (Vickery et al., 2001). Reduction in sward height caused
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Becker, Wayne. Effect of Rancher’s Management Philosophy, Grazing Practices, and Personal Characteristics on Sustainability Indices for North Central Texas Rangeland, dissertation, December 2011; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103289/m1/23/: accessed March 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .