Effect of Rancher’s Management Philosophy, Grazing Practices, and Personal Characteristics on Sustainability Indices for North Central Texas Rangeland Page: 16
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rangelands have the propensity to shift to a stable, shrub-dominated state that will not return their
original composition even with elimination of further grazing (Christensen et al., 2003).
Due to the complexity of ecological processes and their interrelationships, it is usually
difficult and/or expensive to directly measure site integrity and the status of ecological processes.
Therefore, biological and physical attributes are often used to indicate the functional status of
ecological processes and site integrity (USGS, 2002). Complicating the relationship between
grazing and the ecosystem still further is the variability between sites in relation to disturbance
response levels. This indicates that rangeland management will necessarily vary from one
location to the next.
Grazing management is the manipulation of grazing and browsing animals to accomplish
desired results, which generally include both plant and animal performance. Critical factors with
grazing management include the amount of plant material remaining after defoliation and the
timing interval between defoliations. The most basic analysis of grazing management
acknowledges management decisions are contingent on stocking rates and rotation timing
(Hanselka et al., 2009). Additionally, grazing science and management need to incorporate
heterogeneity and nonlinear scaling of spatially and temporally distributed ecological
interactions such as diet selection, defoliation, and plant growth (Laca, 2009).
Defoliation by grazers significantly affects individual plants morphologically and
physiologically. This in turn affects their vigor and productivity, as well as recruitment and
survival through the indirect effects on competitive relationships among plants (Briske and
anderson, 1990). The detrimental effects of defoliation are increased with greater intensity or
frequency of defoliation (Briske and anderson, 1990) and can lead to mortality of plants,
particularly if environmental conditions deteriorate. Seedlings and juveniles of palatable species
are particularly vulnerable. In an early and classic study, Crider (1955) found that a single
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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/m1/27/: accessed July 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .