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Environmental Management

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 84–92 | Cite as

Influence of Mowing Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis on Winter Habitat for Wildlife

  • Kirk W. DaviesEmail author
  • Jonathan D. Bates
  • Dustin D. Johnson
  • Aleta M. Nafus
Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Wyoming big sagebrush Recovery Sagebrush Mechanical treatment Cover Nutritional quality Crude protein 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Research was supported by the Agricultural Research Service and treatments were applied by the Bureau of Land Management. The authors are grateful to Kristen Munday and Georjanna Pokorney for assisting with collecting data. The authors also appreciate the assistance that Mike McGee, Nick Miller, and Matt Obradovich (Bureau of Land Management Wildlife Biologists) provided in locating all of the treatment areas. Thoughtful reviews were provided by Dr. Chad Boyd, Mitch Willis, and anonymous reviewers. Mention of a proprietary product does not constitute a guarantee or warranty of the product by USDA, Oregon State University, or the authors and does not imply its approval to the exclusion of other products.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kirk W. Davies
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jonathan D. Bates
    • 1
  • Dustin D. Johnson
    • 2
  • Aleta M. Nafus
    • 1
  1. 1.USDA—Agricultural Research ServiceEastern Oregon Agricultural Research CenterBurnsUSA
  2. 2.Department of Rangeland Ecology and Management, Harney County Extension OfficeOregon State UniversityBurnsUSA

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