Theme 4: Wildlife--Oral Sessions

Description

Invasive grasses are in most cases introduced species able to outcompete native species. Buffelgrass (Cenchrus ciliaris), Guineagrass (Urochloa minima), and Old World bluestems (Dichanthium spp.) are typical examples of invasive species in southeastern United States. However, native grasses such as tanglehead (Heteropogon contortus) can become invasive and dominant in absence of cattle grazing just like any invasive species. Tanglehead and Kleberg bluestem (Dichanthium ischaemum) increased (p < 0.05) from 1.4 and 1.8% in 1999 to 2.7 and 3.6% in 2002 and then to 8.1 and 9.4% in 2009, respectively. Monocultures of invasive species have very little value for wildlife, and in the case of mature tanglehead its palatability for cattle is very low. Prescribed fire may be used to improve palatability of tanglehead for cattle, and cattle grazing may be used to improve plant species richness for wildlife. To evaluate the effects of prescribed fire and cattle grazing on cattle preference and the botanical composition of a plant community dominated by tanglehead, we burned 3 patches of approximately 0.5 ha in a pasture of 107 ha in October 2016. Two months before the prescribed burning was executed, 10 mother cows were placed in the pasture to graze continually. We fitted GPS collars on 8 cows and location readings were collected every 10 minutes. GPS recordings indicate that cattle used burned patches 4.5 times more after burning compared to before burning. Percent forage utilization of tanglehead was 52% in the burned patches compared to 6% in the control areas. Plant species richness increased from 2.53 to 8.33 plant species per 0.25 m2, before and after burning, respectively, an increase of 330%. Prescribed fire and cattle grazing are valuable tools to increase tanglehead palatability and utilization by cattle and plant species richness for wildlife.

Share

COinS
 

Prescribed Fire and Cattle Grazing to Manage Invasive Grasses for Cattle and Wildlife

Invasive grasses are in most cases introduced species able to outcompete native species. Buffelgrass (Cenchrus ciliaris), Guineagrass (Urochloa minima), and Old World bluestems (Dichanthium spp.) are typical examples of invasive species in southeastern United States. However, native grasses such as tanglehead (Heteropogon contortus) can become invasive and dominant in absence of cattle grazing just like any invasive species. Tanglehead and Kleberg bluestem (Dichanthium ischaemum) increased (p < 0.05) from 1.4 and 1.8% in 1999 to 2.7 and 3.6% in 2002 and then to 8.1 and 9.4% in 2009, respectively. Monocultures of invasive species have very little value for wildlife, and in the case of mature tanglehead its palatability for cattle is very low. Prescribed fire may be used to improve palatability of tanglehead for cattle, and cattle grazing may be used to improve plant species richness for wildlife. To evaluate the effects of prescribed fire and cattle grazing on cattle preference and the botanical composition of a plant community dominated by tanglehead, we burned 3 patches of approximately 0.5 ha in a pasture of 107 ha in October 2016. Two months before the prescribed burning was executed, 10 mother cows were placed in the pasture to graze continually. We fitted GPS collars on 8 cows and location readings were collected every 10 minutes. GPS recordings indicate that cattle used burned patches 4.5 times more after burning compared to before burning. Percent forage utilization of tanglehead was 52% in the burned patches compared to 6% in the control areas. Plant species richness increased from 2.53 to 8.33 plant species per 0.25 m2, before and after burning, respectively, an increase of 330%. Prescribed fire and cattle grazing are valuable tools to increase tanglehead palatability and utilization by cattle and plant species richness for wildlife.