Cattle Grazing in Wetlands

  • Beth A. Middleton
Reference work entry


Cattle grazing drives successional change in wetland vegetation by removing tall grasses and other vegetation. As a disturbance, cattle grazing in some ways resembles natural disturbances such as native mammal grazing and lightning-strike fire, which can support higher biodiversity in wetlands. To encourage rare and Red-Listed species, natural land managers sometimes incorporate a variety of techniques to remove tall vegetation including mowing, hand-cutting, burning and cattle grazing. As a farming practice, cattle grazing was once very common in world wetlands, but as agriculture intensified after WWII, small-scale farmers slowly stopped grazing cattle in natural wetlands. As a result, tall macrophyte and woody species have overgrown some wetland types once used as pastures for cattle.


Disturbance dynamics Gleasonian succession Shrub invasion Succession 


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.U.S. Geological SurveyWetland and Aquatic Research CenterLafayetteUSA

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