Ecology and Evolution
Wiley Open Access
Livestock grazing affects over 60% of the world’s agricultural lands and can influence rangeland ecosystem services and the quantity and quality of wildlife habitat, resulting in changes in biodiversity. Concomitantly, livestock grazing has the potential to be detrimental to some wildlife species while benefiting other rangeland organisms. Many imperiled grouse species require rangeland landscapes that exhibit diverse vegetation structure and composition to complete their life cycle. However, because of declining populations and reduced distributions, grouse are increasingly becoming a worldwide conservation concern. Grouse, as a suite of upland gamebirds, are often considered an umbrella species for other wildlife and thus used as indicators of rangeland health. With a projected increase in demand for livestock products, better information will be required to mitigate the anthropogenic effects of livestock grazing on rangeland biodiversity. To address this need, we completed a data-driven and systematic review of the peer-reviewed literature to determine the current knowledge of the effects of livestock grazing on grouse populations (i.e., chick production and population indices) worldwide. Our meta-analysis revealed an overall negative effect of livestock grazing on grouse populations. Perhaps more importantly, we identified an information void regarding the effects of livestock grazing on the majority of grouse species. Additionally, the reported indirect effects of livestock grazing on grouse species were inconclusive and more reflective of differences in the experimental design of the available studies. Future studies designed to evaluate the direct and indirect effects of livestock grazing on wildlife should document (i) livestock type, (ii) timing and frequency of grazing, (iii) duration, and (iv) stocking rate. Much of this information was lacking in the available published studies we reviewed, but is essential when making comparisons between different livestock grazing management practices and their potential impacts on rangeland biodiversity.
Dettenmaier, Seth J.; Messmer, Terry A.; Hovick, Torre J.; and Dahlgren, David K., "Effects of livestock grazing on rangeland biodiversity: A meta-analysis of grouse populations" (2017). Wildland Resources Faculty Publications. Paper 2658.