Cease livestock grazing: Wetland
Overall effectiveness category Awaiting assessment
Number of studies: 2
Background information and definitions
Grazing by livestock reduces vegetation height and ground cover, alters plant abundance and diversity, creating openings for seed growth and preventing reed or shrub growth. These changes can have beneficial (Tesauro & Ehrenfeld 2007) or detrimental effects (Howland et al. 2014) on reptile populations depending on the reptile species, grazing intensity, timing and conjunction with burning regimes. Studies included in this intervention measure the impact of ceasing grazing on reptiles. Studies that compare the effects of varying intensities of grazing or different types of grazing regimes on reptiles are included under the intervention Modify grazing regime.
For interventions that aim to reduce the detrimental effects of grazing by wild herbivores see Threat: Invasive or problematic species - Remove or control invasive or problem herbivores and seed eaters.
Howland B., Stojanovic D., Gordon I.J., Manning A.D., Fletcher D. & Lindenmayer D.B. (2014) Eaten out of house and home: impacts of grazing on ground-dwelling reptiles in Australian grasslands and grassy woodlands. PLoS One, 9, e105966.
Tesauro J. & Ehrenfeld D. (2007) The effects of livestock grazing on the bog turtle [Glyptemys (=Clemmys) muhlenbergii]. Herpetologica, 63, 293–300.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated, site comparison study in 2000–2001 in wet meadow or fen areas on farmlands in New Jersey, USA (Tesauro & Ehrenfeld 2007) found that ungrazed areas had fewer bog turtle Glyptemys muhlenbergii captures and densities and lower occurrence of juvenile turtles compared to grazed sites. Overall bog turtle captures and density in formerly grazed sites (captures: 3 individuals/site; density: 8 turtles/ha) was lower than in currently grazed sites (6, 25). Juvenile turtles were found less frequently in formerly sites (33%) compared to currently grazed sites (75%). Each hectare of 12 formerly grazed (no livestock for at least 10 years) and 12 grazed (under constant grazing for >50 years; 11 grazed by cattle, one by horses) sites were visually searched for a total of 15 hours over at least three visits in April–September 2000–2001. All captured turtles were sexed, measured, marked by notching shells and released at site of capture.Study and other actions tested
A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 2004–2006 in a seasonal wetland in Queensland, Australia (Bower et al. 2014) found that overall reptile and amphibian abundances were similar in ungrazed areas compared to areas that were grazed, burned or grazed and burned (to control invasive para grass Urochloa mutica), but that abundance of one skink species Lampropholis delicata was reduced in areas with grazing and/or burning. Overall reptile and amphibian abundance was similar in ungrazed areas compared to areas that were grazed, burned or grazed and burned (results presented as statistical model outputs). However, abundance of Lampropholis delicata was higher in ungrazed plots with no burning (14 skinks/plot) compared to plots with grazing and/or burning (grazed: 4 skinks/plot; burned: 3 skinks/plot; grazed and burned: 1 skink/plot). Para-grass dominated habitat in a conservation park (3,245 ha) was divided into 12 plots (200 x 300 m each) and each plot was either left unmanaged (no grazing or burning), grazed, burned, or grazed and burned (3 plots/management type). Burning took place in August 2004, September 2005 and November 2006. Cattle Bos indicus grazing took place after burning in September–December 2004, October–December 2005 and November–December 2006. Livestock levels were calculated to consume 50% of the grass biomass present/plot. Reptile and frog communities were sampled four times between 2005–2007 using three pitfall/funnel trap arrays/plot (see original paper for details). Reptiles were individually marked by toe clipping prior to release.Study and other actions tested