Event Title

Aspen herbivory by wildlife and livestock on Utah's Monroe Mountain

Presenter Information

Jody A. Gale

Location

USU Eccles Conference Center

Event Website

www.restoringthewest.org

Abstract

In 2010, the Utah Department of Agriculture Grazing Improvement Program and Grand Canyon Trust convened a collaborative working group. Their objective was to develop recommendations to address decreasing regeneration and recruitment of aspen (Populus tremuloides) on Monroe Mountain in the Fishlake National Forest in central Utah. Multiple land-use interests represented in the collaborative included: livestock, wildlife, private inholdings, conservation, etc. Decreasing populations of aspen decrease ecosystem biodiversity, forest health, habitat, water quality, water yield, and other societal values. A major cause of aspen decline is the long-term lack of stand-replacing disturbance by fire, disease, or harvest, which allows overtopping of aspen by conifers. Following disturbance, chronic herbivory of aspen sprouts by wildlife and livestock threatens clone viability. Livestock were implicated by some interests and wildlife by others as the primary cause of aspen herbivory with no scientific evidence to support claims. In 2011, members of the collaborative established 4, non-replicated, non-randomized, 6’x100’ belt transects to measure herbivory of aspen sprouts pre-and post-livestock grazing. To record which herbivores were active in transects, digital trail cameras, equipped with motion and infrared sensors, were positioned at each end facing each other. Over 60,000 photographs and video clips documented herbivory by domestic beef (Bos primigenius), elk (Cervus canadensis), and deer (Odocoileus hemionus); and recorded other environmental, wildlife and human activity. Data show elk, beef and deer all actively grazing in the transects. The highest percentage of sensor triggers by elk was at the Tibadore (63%; 2011) and Burnt Flat (39%; 2012). Highest triggers by beef were at Burnt Flat (62%; 2011), Squaw Springs (53%; 2011), and Tibadore (48%; 2012). Highest triggers by deer were at Squaw Springs (60%; 2012), White Ledges (59%; 2012 and 52%; 2011). Browsing of aspen leaders by all three animal species during the livestock grazing period in 2011 ranged from 13% at Tibadore to 58% at Burnt Flat and Squaw Springs with three of four transects exhibiting 52-58% browsing. In 2012, percent browsing ranged from 65% at Tibadore to 91% at Burnt Flat.

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Oct 16th, 12:25 PM Oct 16th, 12:30 PM

Aspen herbivory by wildlife and livestock on Utah's Monroe Mountain

USU Eccles Conference Center

In 2010, the Utah Department of Agriculture Grazing Improvement Program and Grand Canyon Trust convened a collaborative working group. Their objective was to develop recommendations to address decreasing regeneration and recruitment of aspen (Populus tremuloides) on Monroe Mountain in the Fishlake National Forest in central Utah. Multiple land-use interests represented in the collaborative included: livestock, wildlife, private inholdings, conservation, etc. Decreasing populations of aspen decrease ecosystem biodiversity, forest health, habitat, water quality, water yield, and other societal values. A major cause of aspen decline is the long-term lack of stand-replacing disturbance by fire, disease, or harvest, which allows overtopping of aspen by conifers. Following disturbance, chronic herbivory of aspen sprouts by wildlife and livestock threatens clone viability. Livestock were implicated by some interests and wildlife by others as the primary cause of aspen herbivory with no scientific evidence to support claims. In 2011, members of the collaborative established 4, non-replicated, non-randomized, 6’x100’ belt transects to measure herbivory of aspen sprouts pre-and post-livestock grazing. To record which herbivores were active in transects, digital trail cameras, equipped with motion and infrared sensors, were positioned at each end facing each other. Over 60,000 photographs and video clips documented herbivory by domestic beef (Bos primigenius), elk (Cervus canadensis), and deer (Odocoileus hemionus); and recorded other environmental, wildlife and human activity. Data show elk, beef and deer all actively grazing in the transects. The highest percentage of sensor triggers by elk was at the Tibadore (63%; 2011) and Burnt Flat (39%; 2012). Highest triggers by beef were at Burnt Flat (62%; 2011), Squaw Springs (53%; 2011), and Tibadore (48%; 2012). Highest triggers by deer were at Squaw Springs (60%; 2012), White Ledges (59%; 2012 and 52%; 2011). Browsing of aspen leaders by all three animal species during the livestock grazing period in 2011 ranged from 13% at Tibadore to 58% at Burnt Flat and Squaw Springs with three of four transects exhibiting 52-58% browsing. In 2012, percent browsing ranged from 65% at Tibadore to 91% at Burnt Flat.

http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/rtw/2013/Poster/7