, Volume 669, Issue 1, pp 105–117 | Cite as

Relationships among rotational and conventional grazing systems, stream channels, and macroinvertebrates

  • Kara L. RaymondEmail author
  • Bruce Vondracek
Primary Research Paper


Cattle grazing in riparian areas can reduce water quality, alter stream channel characteristics, and alter fish and macroinvertebrate assemblage structure. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Services has recommended Rotational Grazing (RG) as an alternative management method on livestock and dairy operations to protect riparian areas and water quality. We evaluated 13 stream channel characteristics, benthic macroinvertebrate larvae (BML), and chironomid pupal exuviae (CPE) from 18 sites in the Upper Midwest of the United States in relation to RG and conventional grazing (CG). A Biotic Composite Score comprised of several macroinvertebrate metrics was developed for both the BML assemblage and the CPE assemblage. Multi-Response Permutation Procedures (MRPP) indicated a significant difference in stream channel characteristics between RG and CG. Nonmetric Multidimensional Scaling indicated that RG sites were associated with more stable stream banks, higher quality aquatic habitat, lower soil compaction, and larger particles in the streambed. However, neither MRPP nor Mann–Whitney U tests demonstrated a difference in Biotic Composite Scores for BML or CPE along RG and CG sites. The BML and CPE metrics were significantly correlated, indicating that they were likely responding to similar variables among the study sites. Although stream channel characteristics appeared to respond to grazing management, BML and CPE may have responded to land use throughout the watershed, as well as local land use.


Bank stability Grazing management Chironomid pupal exuvia Benthic macroinvertebrate 



We thank the members of the research group: Nick Jordan, Steve Manson, and Kristen Nelson for their contributions to the formation of this project. We also thank Brandon Wiarda and Sonya Ewert for their help collecting field data, Rebecca Jacobson for insect identification, Adam Berland for GIS analysis, and Leonard Ferrington Jr. for his wealth of knowledge about Chironomidae. An earlier draft of this manuscript was improved thanks to reviews by Shaun Moore, Eric Romaniszyn, and Brian Weigel. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation under the Biocomplexity in the Environment Priority Area, Award ID 0709613. Reference to trade names does not imply endorsement by authors or the U.S. Government.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. (outside the USA) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Park Service, Sonoran Desert NetworkTucsonUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Geological Survey, Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research UnitUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA

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