Date of Award:

11-2011

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Ecology

Department name when degree awarded

Ecology

Advisor/Chair:

Dr. Karin Kettenring

Abstract

The variation that exists in both time and space in riparian plant communities was explored in five streams within the Salmon National Forest and surrounding Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands of central-eastern Idaho that are managed for cattle grazing. In this study, we evaluated the ability of commonly used vegetation metrics (live vegetation cover, species richness, % forb, litter, bare ground, wetland indicator rating, % graminoid, bank alteration, soil compaction, and % native) and different plot types (static or dynamic) to assess changes in plant communities over time and in areas grazed by cattle. We were particularly interested in evaluating the stability of metrics over time and the responsiveness of metrics to cattle grazing. We found that the metrics wetland indicator rating, % graminoid, and % native were stable across the season, while live vegetation cover, species richness, % forb, litter, bare ground, bank alteration, and soil compaction were affected by seasonal variation. The metrics that responded to grazing similarly at all streams and sites were live vegetation cover, litter, bare ground, and bank alteration, while species richness, % forb, wetland indicator rating, % graminoid, soil compaction, and % native responded differently to cattle grazing at individual streams. The metrics that were most sensitive to cattle grazing within the season were live vegetation cover, species richness, % forb, litter, and bare ground. Plot type did not have an effect on the majority of the metrics at the majority of the streams. This information can be used by land managers to determine which metrics are suitable for short- and long-term monitoring, and which ones are appropriate for monitoring the effects of cattle grazing.

Comments

Publication made available electronically December 21, 2011.

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