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Influence of Mowing Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis on Winter Habitat for Wildlife
- Mowing is commonly implemented to Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis (Beetle & A. Young) S.L. Welsh (Wyoming big sagebrush) plant communities to improve wildlife habitat, increase forage production for livestock, and create fuel breaks for fire suppression. However, information detailing the influence of mowing on winter habitat for wildlife is lacking. This information is crucial because many wildlife species depended on A. tridentata spp. wyomingensis plant communities for winter habitat and consume significant quantities of Artemisia during this time. Furthermore, information is generally limited describing the recovery of A. tridentata spp. wyomingensis to mowing and the impacts of mowing on stand structure. Stand characteristics and Artemisia leaf tissue crude protein (CP), acid detergent fiber (ADF), and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) concentrations were measured in midwinter on 0-, 2-, 4-, and 6-year-old fall-applied mechanical (mowed at 20 cm height) treatments and compared to adjacent untreated (control) areas. Mowing compared to the control decreased Artemisia cover, density, canopy volume, canopy elliptical area, and height (P < 0.05), but all characteristics were recovering (P < 0.05). Mowing A. tridentata spp. wyomingensis plant communities slightly increases the nutritional quality of Artemisia leaves (P < 0.05), but it simultaneously results in up to 20 years of decrease in Artemisia structural characteristics. Because of the large reduction in A. tridentata spp. wyomingensis for potentially 20 years following mowing, mowing should not be applied in Artemisia facultative and obligate wildlife winter habitat. Considering the decline in A. tridentata spp. wyomingensis-dominated landscapes, we caution against mowing these communities.
Davies, Kirk W. , Bates, Jonathan D. , Johnson, Dustin D. , Nafus, Aleta M.
mowing , habitat conservation , plant communities , Artemisia tridentata , leaves , crude protein , acid detergent fiber , neutral detergent fiber , vegetation cover , canopy , nutritive value , winter
- Includes references
- Environmental management 2009 July, v. 44, no. 1
- New York : Springer-Verlag
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
- Works produced by employees of the U.S. Government as part of their official duties are not copyrighted within the U.S. The content of this document is not copyrighted.