The Rangeland Journal The Rangeland Journal Society
Rangeland ecology and management

The Rangeland Journal

The Rangeland Journal

The Rangeland Journal publishes original work on the biophysical, social, cultural, economic, and policy influences affecting rangeland use and management. Read more about the journalMore

Editor-in-Chief: Paul Novelly

Current Issue

The Rangeland Journal

Volume 39 Number 1 2017


Cattle selectivity in natural grasslands is one of the most important aspects to understand herbivore behaviour, and accordingly, a key factor necessary for improving livestock production in rangelands. We found that cattle landscape selectivity was mainly driven by the cover of short plants. Strength of selectivity and associated grazing distribution patterns were different depending on paddock management and characteristics. Effective methods of changing animal distribution involve paddock design and manipulation of forage types, while the role of stocking rate remains controversial.

RJ16014A woody plant community and tree-cacti associations change with distance to a water source in a dry Chaco forest of Argentina

Carolina B. Trigo, Andrés Tálamo, Mauricio M. Núñez-Regueiro, Enrique J. Derlindati, Gustavo A. Marás, Alicia H. Barchuk and Antonio Palavecino
pp. 15-23

Despite the regional importance of livestock production in arid and semiarid regions, little is known about the possible effects of livestock on the regeneration of woody plant communities in dry forests. We evaluated the interaction of native woody plants and livestock pressure; when we compared areas far from a water source (low pressure) with areas near a water source (high pressure), we found lower plant abundance and richness, and higher number of spatial associations between young trees and cacti key species near the water source. We propose that livestock has a strong impact on forest structure, and the association between trees and cacti could act as regeneration mechanism with possible restauration applications.

RJ16049Exploring relationships between native vertebrate biodiversity and grazing land condition

Scott A. Parsons, Alex Kutt, Eric P. Vanderduys, Justin J. Perry and Lin Schwarzkopf
pp. 25-37

A land condition assessment scale designed to assess land condition for grazing was a poor estimator of native vertebrate biodiversity. Although some factors measured by the scale were useful for assessing habitat for wildlife, downgrading condition due to the presence of native woody vegetation in land condition assessments worked strongly against correct assessment of land for biodiversity and natural heritage.


Best practice management guides are an important way of reaching land managers in Australia with comprehensive information on managing invasive species. We sought to determine the effectiveness of best practice management guides as well as the range of evaluation approaches available through a review of literature, concluding that limited information is available on best practice management guide effectiveness, and that evaluation is likely to be challenging. However, the literature does suggest that some evaluation options are available to government agencies distributing these materials.


High costs of planting seed to promote restoration of native grasslands can be reduced by establishment of small (<1 ha) fenced seed production areas at suitable sites within degraded grasslands. On mulga country, the most suitable sites were characterised by rocky outcrops, which favoured establishment of two desirable species and were unfavourable for two undesirable species. Location of these rocky outcrops at high points in the landscape aided dispersal of the seed produced.

RJ16048Managing competitive interactions to promote regeneration of native perennial grasses in semi-arid south-eastern Australia

Ronald B. Hacker, Ian D. Toole, Gavin J. Melville, Yohannes Alemseged and Warren J. Smith
pp. 59-71

Restoration of native perennial grasses in a degraded semi-arid woodland was best promoted by broad-spectrum weed control but at the expense of short-term biomass production. Oversowing with unfertilised crop or pasture species, intended to absorb available soil nitrogen and reduce competition from exotic annuals, reduced perennial grass recruitment but did not prevent it. At times, sown species substantially increased short-term biomass production. Sown species reduced available soil nitrogen thus conditioning the site for future perennial grass recruitment.


As the global demand for native seeds for ecosystem restoration increases, plant phenological studies should be pursued to contribute to strategies for seed supply from wild or managed sources. Nineteen arid zone species of different life-forms including grasses, shrubs and trees were studied in the Pilbara, Western Australia, to determine their seasonal flowering and seed production patterns. Two distinct seed collection seasons are evident in the Pilbara, indicating that co-existing species exploit the available resources differently. These disparate flowering and seed production seasons may represent adaptations to the surrounding arid environment where water is a limiting resource.


Naturalised non-native plants that become invasive pose a serious incursion threat to biodiversity, agricultural businesses and community health. Understanding and quantifying the invasion threat of these species within protected areas is fundamental to long-term conservation of biodiversity. Twenty-seven weeds of State significance were observed inside and 41 weed species were observed outside of protected areas in the Cape York Peninsula bioregion, whereas 25 such weeds were only observed outside the protected areas in the Desert Uplands bioregion.

RJ16052Dynamics of grazing rights and their impact on mobile cattle herders in Bhutan

Kuenga Namgay, Joanne E. Millar and Rosemary S. Black
pp. 97-104

Seasonal cattle movements, an important part of the living cultural heritage in Bhutan, is threatened by land-use change policies. Study on impacts of such change on livelihoods of herders revealed lack of herder involvement and advocacy in the process. Restriction on movement could impact herders and the environment negatively, calling future policy development be more inclusive and use scientific evidence.

Online Early

The peer-reviewed and edited version of record published online before inclusion in an issue

Published online 27 March 2017

RJ15121Pastureland transfer as a livelihood adaptation strategy for herdsmen: a case study of Xilingol, Inner Mongolia

Meiyan Zhang, Lizhong Zhang, Yaoqi Zhang, Yecheng Xu and Jiquan Chen
 

In response to climate change, socioeconomic transformation and increasing population pressure, it is critical to let pastureland transfer among households for more efficient use of the limited resources. Such a market mechanism would encourage land transfer for better use, consolidate and improve the scale of the economy, as well as facilitate labour division and population reallocation. Due to the lost mobility of nomadic livelihoods, the need for a new market mechanism is urgently needed. This study attempts to examine and understand pastureland transfer among pastoral households in Xilingol, Inner Mongolia, China. We aim to understand how pastureland transfers are driven, what factors affect land transfer, and how transfer is used as an adaptive strategy for nomadic livelihood.

Published online 20 March 2017

RJ16007Effects of grazing intensity on organic carbon stock characteristics in Stipa breviflora desert steppe vegetation soil systems

Heyun Wang, Zhi Dong, Jianying Guo, Hongli Li, Jinrong Li, Guodong Han and Xinchuang Chen
 

Grassland ecosystems play an essential role in the global carbon cycle and balance. Light grazing and moderate grazing intensities were beneficial for soil nutrient accumulation in the desert steppe. This is important to reveal the mechanisms of grazing impact on carbon processes in the desert steppe, and can provide a theoretical basis for conservation and utilisation of grassland resources.

Published online 14 March 2017

RJ16124Frequent fires reduce the nutritional quality of Sorghum stipoideum seed, a keystone food resource for the Gouldian finch (Erythrura gouldiae)

Anna Weier, Ian J. Radford, Alan Manson, Lesley J. Durrans and Michael J. Lawes
 

In Australia’s tropical savannas, infrequent fires cause a flush of soil nutrients and an increase in seed quality of annual grasses, upon which the endangered Gouldian finch relies during breeding. By contrast, frequent fires reduce seed quality, causing finches to select breeding sites that have been recently but infrequently burnt. Fine-grained patch-mosaic infrequent burns are essential to maintain the seed nutrition required by the Gouldian finch.

Published online 25 February 2017

RJ16088A survey of swainsonine content in Swainsona species

Daniel Cook, Dale R. Gardner, Kevin D. Welch and Jeremy G. Allen
 

Some Swainsona species are reported to be toxic to livestock due to the toxin swainsonine but a systematic screen using modern chemical instrumentation is lacking. Swainsonine was detected in 9 of 41 species screened using modern instrumentation, eight of which had not been determined to contain swainsonine previously. This dataset will be a valuable tool for risk assessment and diagnostic purposes and highlights the utility of herbarium specimens in phytochemical studies.

Published online 23 February 2017

RJ16077Managing rain-filled wetlands for carbon sequestration: a synthesis

Susanne C. Watkins, Darren S. Baldwin, Helen P. Waudby and Sarah E. M. A. Ning
 

Rain-filled wetlands (wetlands that only fill through rainfall are not connected to other waterbodies) are moist environments in typically dry arid- and semiarid zones. As carbon cycling is influenced by moisture content of soil, these wetlands could be locally important sites for carbon (C) storage and capture. We identify threats to these important zones, suggest possible management actions and indicate areas where further work is required to understand the role of these wetlands in C capture and storage.

Published online 21 February 2017

RJ16020Sensitivity of soil organic carbon to grazing management in the semi-arid rangelands of south-eastern Australia

S. E. Orgill, C. M. Waters, G. Melville, I. Toole, Y. Alemseged and W. Smith
 

The role of grazing management in rangeland soil carbon sequestration is unclear despite the considerable climate mitigation potential. Herein we show that the management of grazing intensity through total grazing pressure control, which incorporates long periods of rest, increased the stock of organic carbon by 0.6% or 8.34 t ha–1 (0–0.3 m) for only some parts of the landscape, such as the ridges, but decreased or had no effect in other parts of the landscape. Increases in carbon stocks were consistently associated with higher ground cover (litter and perennial) and proximity to trees.

Published online 16 February 2017

RJ16068Plant species selection by sheep in semi-natural dry grasslands extensively grazed in the south-western Italian Alps

Marco Pittarello, Alessandra Gorlier, Giampiero Lombardi and Michele Lonati
 

Feeding preferences of sheep were assessed in abandoned, semi-natural, dry grasslands by using monitoring with GPS collars under extensive grazing management. Distance to night pens, gentler terrain, and water troughs affected sheep behaviour. Sheep exerted a marked selection among single plant species, and stocking density affected the consumption of specific plant species.

Published online 31 January 2017

RJ16016Impala, Aepyceros melampus: does browse quality influence their use of sites originally utilised as short-duration kraals in a southern African savanna?

Rangarirai Huruba, Peter J. Mundy, Allan Sebata, Gianetta K. Purchase and Duncan N. MacFadyen
 

This study investigated the use of sites originally utilised as short-duration cattle kraals by impala. Impala use of these sites was influenced by the quality of the woody plants resprouts. The resprouts had higher foliar nutrients and lower condensed tannins concentrations than the surrounding vegetation.

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