Impact of livestock grazing on plant and small mammal communities in the Ruby Mountains, northeastern Nevada

  • Published source details Rickart E.A., Bienek K.G. & Rowe R.J. (2013) Impact of livestock grazing on plant and small mammal communities in the Ruby Mountains, northeastern Nevada. Western North American Naturalist, 73, 505-515.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use fences to exclude livestock from shrublands

Action Link
Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

Reduce intensity of grazing by domestic livestock

Action Link
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation
  1. Use fences to exclude livestock from shrublands

    A site comparison study in 1958–2008 in sagebrush scrub in Nevada, USA (Rickart et al. 2013) found that using fences to exclude livestock decreased cover of woody plants and increased cover of grasses, but did not alter forb cover after 50 years. In fenced areas cover of woody plants (10%) was lower than in unfenced areas (38%), but for grass species the opposite was true (fenced: 32%, unfenced: 5%). There was no significant difference in the cover of forb species between fenced (10%) and unfenced areas (6%). In the 1950s part of the site was fenced to exclude livestock. In 2008 vegetation cover was estimated in 10 randomly placed 1 m2 quadrats in both the fenced and unfenced areas.

    (Summarised by: Phil Martin)

  2. Reduce intensity of grazing by domestic livestock

    A controlled study in 2008 of a grassland and woodland site in Nevada, USA (Rickart et al. 2013) found that reducing grazing intensity by long-term exclusion of domestic livestock resulted in a higher species richness and abundance of small mammals. More small mammal species were recorded on ungrazed land (six) than on grazed land (four). Small mammal abundance on ungrazed land (0.08 animals/trap night) was higher than on grazed land (0.05 animals/trap night). Three species were caught in sufficient quantities for individual analyses. The Great Basin pocket mouse Perognathus parvus was more abundant on ungrazed than grazed land (0.05 vs 0.02 individuals/trap night) as was western jumping mouse Zapus princeps (0.02 vs 0.00 individuals/trap night). Deer mice Peromyscus maniculatus showed no preference (0.01 vs 0.01 individuals/trap night). Sampling occurred in a 10-ha enclosure, characterised by mixed shrubs and trees, from which domestic livestock were excluded at least 50 years previously and in a similar sized, adjacent cattle-grazed grassland. Small mammals were sampled using lines of snap-traps, over three or four nights, in July 2008.

    (Summarised by: Nick Littlewood)

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