Cease livestock grazing: Wetland

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

  • Two studies evaluated the effects of ceasing livestock grazing in wetlands on reptile populations. One study was in the USA and one was in Australia.



  • Abundance (2 studies): One replicated, site comparison study in the USA found that ungrazed sites had fewer bog turtles than grazed sites. One replicated, randomized, controlled study in Australia found that ungrazed areas had similar overall reptile and amphibian abundance compared to that were grazed, burned or grazed and burned (to remove invasive non-native para grass). The study also found that unmanaged areas (no grazing or burning) had a higher abundance of one skink species than areas with grazing and/or burning.
  • Occupancy/range (1 study): One replicated, site comparison study in the USA found that juvenile box turtles were present less frequently in ungrazed sites compared to grazed sites.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. 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
  2. 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
Please cite as:

Sainsbury K.A., Morgan W.H., Watson M., Rotem G., Bouskila A., Smith R.K. & Sutherland W.J. (2021) Reptile Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions for reptiles. Conservation Evidence Series Synopsis. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

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Reptile Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Reptile Conservation
Reptile Conservation

Reptile Conservation - Published 2021

Reptile synopsis

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