Use grazing to control problematic plants: freshwater swamps
Overall effectiveness category No evidence found (no assessment)
Number of studies: 0
Background information and definitions
This action involves using herbivores such as sheep, cows, horses or fish to control problematic plants. Herbivores remove shoots or flowers, limiting plant growth and/or reproduction. They might selectively graze certain plant groups or species (Grant et al. 1987), creating space for other species to grow.
Grazing may be a useful option for control of problematic plants over large areas, or areas that are not easily accessible to equipment. To ensure grazing actually occurs in wetlands within the larger landscape, the breed or population of herbivores should be carefully chosen. Herbivores adapted to upland areas may avoid wetland habitats altogether. Caution: Trampling, erosion and nutrient enrichment from herbivores can have negative impacts on vegetation, especially if the density of herbivores is high.
Bear in mind that the effects of grazing might be highly dependent on how it is carried out (e.g. species, intensity, timing, frequency and duration) and site conditions (e.g. nutrient availability, water levels, presence/density of wild herbivores) (Rinella & Hileman 2009).
For this action, “vegetation” refers to overall or non-target vegetation. Studies that only report responses of target problematic plants have not been summarized.
Related actions: interventions to address domestic livestock as a threat, e.g. Exclude livestock from historically ungrazed sites; Use grazing to maintain or restore disturbance.
Grant S.A., Suckling S.A., Smith H.K., Torvell L., Forbes T.D.A. & Hodgson J. (1987). Comparative studies of diet selection by sheep and cattle: blanket bog and heather moor. Journal of Ecology, 75, 947–960.
Rinella M.J. & Hileman B.J. (2009) Efficacy of prescribed grazing depends on timing intensity and frequency. Journal of Applied Ecology, 46, 796–803.