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Isotopes, Wool, and Rangeland Monitoring: Let the Sheep Do the Sampling


and C4 plant species consumed by animals. Sheep sample vegetation continuously throughout a year, and as their wool grows it integrates and stores information about their diet. In subtropical and tropical rangelands the majority of grass species are C4. Since sheep prefer to graze, and their wool is an isotopic record of their diet, we now have the potential to develop a high resolution index to the availability of grass from a sheep's perspective. Isotopic analyses of wool suggest a new direction for monitoring grazing and for the reconstruction of past vegetation changes, which will make a significant contribution to traditional rangeland ecology and management. It is recommended that isotopic and other analyses of wool be further developed for use in rangeland monitoring programs to provide valuable feedback for land managers.

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Witt, G., Moll, E., Beeton, R. et al. Isotopes, Wool, and Rangeland Monitoring: Let the Sheep Do the Sampling. Environmental Management 22, 145–152 (1998).

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