Spring grazing impacts on the vegetation of reed canarygrass-invaded wetlands

  • Published source details Hillhouse H.L., Tunnell S.J. & Stubbendieck J. (2010) Spring grazing impacts on the vegetation of reed canarygrass-invaded wetlands. Rangeland Ecology & Management (previously Journal of Range Management 1948-2004), 63, 581-587.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use grazing to control problematic plants: freshwater marshes

Action Link
Marsh and Swamp Conservation
  1. Use grazing to control problematic plants: freshwater marshes

    A replicated, paired, controlled, before-and-after study in 2005–2007 in four freshwater marshes invaded by reed canarygrass Phalaris arundinacea in Nebraska, USA (Hillhouse et al. 2010) found that grazing had no significant effect on plant species richness, overall vegetation cover, or the abundance of reed canarygrass (both absolute and relative). Over two years, grazed and ungrazed plots experienced statistically similar changes in plant species richness (data not reported) and overall vegetation cover (grazed: decline from 8% to 3%; ungrazed: decline from 8% to <1%). The same was true for reed canarygrass absolute cover (grazed: decline from 8% to 2%; ungrazed: decline from 8% to <1%) and relative abundance (grazed: decline from 93% to 68% of recorded plants; ungrazed: decline from 96% to 68% of recorded plants). The study also reported increases in bare ground cover and decreases in litter cover in grazed plots – whereas the opposite was true in ungrazed plots (see original paper for data). Methods: Three 3–8 ha plots were established in each of four depressional marshes, in dense stands of reed canarygrass. Eight plots (two plots/marsh) were grazed in both 2006 and 2007 (at some point between April and August; 20–40 animal units for 10–49 days/year). The other four plots (one plot/marsh) were left ungrazed. Plant species and vegetation cover were recorded at points along transects (number of points not clearly reported) before grazing (2005) and after 1–2 years of grazing (July–August 2006 and 2007).

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

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