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The Rangeland Journal Abstracts

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The following abstracts are from the latest issues of The Rangeland Journal.

The Rangeland Journal Vol. 40 (6) - November, 2018

Grazing and tree ‘clearing’ alter grass-associated invertebrate assemblages in an Australian tropical grassy woodland

Wayne A. Houston A B and Alistair Melzer A

- Author Affiliations

A Central Queensland University, School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, Bruce Highway, North Rockhampton, Qld 4701, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 40(6) 539-554
Submitted: 18 May 2018  Accepted: 20 September 2018   Published: 25 October 2018


To evaluate the response of invertebrates to ‘clearing’ and grazing pressure impacts, a previously grazed but uncleared grassy woodland in central Queensland was manipulated to provide four grazing pressures (destocked, low, moderate and high) and two tree treatments (with trees, i.e. untreated, and ‘cleared’, i.e. trees and saplings poisoned with herbicides), with two replicates of each, making 16 plots in total. Monitoring was carried out in 1998, approximately four years post-establishment of the treatments. Two types of samples were taken: pitfall for ground-active fauna and suction for grass-associated fauna. Overall, 23 orders of invertebrates were sampled by pitfalls and 22 by suction. Significant effects of grazing on invertebrate assemblages were detected by both methods, but no effects were detected from ‘clearing’. There was a gradation in the invertebrate assemblages from low to high grazing pressure, the invertebrate assemblages in the paddocks with the highest grazing differing most from those in the destocked and low-grazing-pressure paddocks. Notwithstanding the lack of effect of ‘clearing’ at the assemblage level, ground-active invertebrates and some grass-associated invertebrates increased in abundance following ‘clearing’, possibly reflecting an increase in the quality of the resource base. However, ground-active invertebrates and grass-associated invertebrates showed contrasting responses to grazing pressure, the former increasing, possibly reflecting changes in trapability due to the more open vegetation structure at higher grazing pressures. The abundance of grass-associated invertebrates declined by 50–80% with increased grazing – although with complex changes in assemblage structure. Despite those declines, the basic trophic pyramid remained, and, along with that, the potential for recovery of invertebrate assemblages and associated ecosystem services with reduction in grazing intensity. With 80% of Queensland grazed, the reduction in invertebrate abundance has implications for the viability of insectivores, particularly mobile fauna such as birds, at a landscape scale. It is recommended that the utility of using suction samples as a basis for assessing ecosystem functional health be investigated and that grazing pressure be reduced to increase invertebrate assemblages of rangeland pastures and to improve sustainability.

Additional keywords: biodiversity conservation, grassy woodlands, invertebrate bioindicators, land management, rangeland ecology, sustainable grazing practices.

Proximity to urban fringe recreational facilities increases native biodiversity in an arid rangeland

Tamer Khafaga A , Greg Simkins B and David Gallacher C D

Author Affiliations

A Universidad de Málaga, Avenida de la Estación de El Palo, 4, 29017 Málaga, Spain.

B Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, PO Box 191177, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

C Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Zayed University, PO Box 19282, Al Ruwayyah, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

D Corresponding author. Emails:;

The Rangeland Journal 40(6) 555-563
Submitted: 1 May 2017  Accepted: 8 October 2018   Published: 2 November 2018


Urban developments affect neighbouring ecosystems in multiple ways, usually decreasing native biodiversity. Arabian arid rangeland was studied to identify the primary causes of biodiversity variation. Al Marmoum is a 990 km2 area on the urban edge of Dubai, designated for ecological ‘enhancement’ and outdoor recreational use. The area lacks historical biodiversity data, but is thought to be primarily influenced by Arabian camel (Camelus dromedarius Linnaeus, 1758) herbivory. Perennial floral and faunal diversity was assessed at 54 sites. Counts of reintroduced ungulates (Arabian oryx Oryx leucoryx (Pallas, 1777), Arabian gazelle Gazella gazella cora (C.H. Smith, 1827) and sand gazelle G. subgutturosa marica (Thomas, 1897)) were made at 79 separate sites. Correlations of observed biodiversity with substrate type, anthropogenic structures, and ungulate distribution were assessed. Native biodiversity was substantially higher in north-north-west locations near recreational facilities, with the most likely cause being differential browsing pressure. Camel browsing faced greater communal regulation in the north-north-west, whereas oryx and gazelles congregated at feed points in the south-south-east that were farther from human activity. Arid rangeland in this socioecological landscape exhibits greater natural biodiversity at the urban fringe. Human activity reduces ungulate density, enabling a greater diversity of perennial flora, which then attracts non-ungulate fauna. Anthropogenic features can therefore offer conservation value in landscapes where ungulate populations are artificially elevated.

Additional keywords: anthropogenic, browsing, camel, herbivory, peri-urban, ungulate.

Household-oriented benefits largely outweigh commercial benefits derived from cattle in Mabalane District, Mozambique

Stanley Karanja Ng’ang’a A E , Cecilia Ritho B , Mario Herrero C and Simon Fraval D

- Author Affiliations

A International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Panā€Africa Bean Research Alliance, National Agricultural Research Laboratories—Kawanda, PO Box 6247, Kampala, Uganda.

B Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nairobi, PO Box 30197, Nairobi, Kenya.

C CSIRO, 306 Carmody Road, St Lucia, Qld 4067, Australia.

D International Livestock Research Institute, PO Box 30709, Nairobi, Kenya.

E Corresponding author. Email:,

The Rangeland Journal 40(6) 565-576
Submitted: 31 October 2017  Accepted: 12 September 2018   Published: 25 October 2018


In Sub-Saharan Africa, research aimed at improving household livelihoods through cattle often targets commercial benefits while neglecting household-oriented benefits. The latter are rarely articulated, and their comprehensive role in livelihoods is little understood by policymakers. The main aim of this study was to assess household-oriented benefits of cattle as a basis for formulating appropriate policies. Data were collected from 192 households selected through multistage random sampling in Mabalane District of Mozambique in 2009. The main objectives of cattle raising were identified and ranked in order of importance by using the analytical hierarchy procedure. The vast majority (98%) of households kept cattle primarily to derive various types of household-oriented benefits such as draft power, financing, insurance, saving, social status and bridewealth. Only 2% of households kept cattle mainly for commercial benefits. The households secured financing, insurance and saving primarily by capital accumulation through herd expansion, for example after a good crop harvest, using the profit to purchase a young calf, an ox or a heifer. Households reporting social prestige as an important objective for raising cattle were mainly those already with high social status. In Mabalane District, a large herd of cattle is considered evidence of one’s ability to manage communally owned resources. This suggests that the functions of draft power, financing, insurance and saving play important roles in the livelihoods of most of agro-pastoral households in Mozambique—arguably more important than meat and milk. The reliance on financing, insurance and saving benefits of cattle, as well as the low level of milk and meat marketing, could be explained by the low level of development within the district, exacerbated by the civil war that ended in the 1990s.

Additional keywords: analytical hierarchy process, bridewealth, draft power, insurance, saving and financing.

Livestock grazing and topographic site effects on grassland plant communities after long-term grazing cessation

Elise S. Gornish A D , D. J. Eastburn B , Scott Oneto C and Leslie M. Roche B C

- Author Affiliations

A University of Arizona, School of Natural Resources, 1064 E Lowell Street, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.

B University of California, Davis, Department of Plant Sciences, One Shields Avenue Davis, CA 95616, USA.

C University of California Cooperative Extension, 1111 Franklin Street, Oakland, CA 94607-5200, USA.

D Corresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 40(6) 577-582
Submitted: 25 February 2018  Accepted: 23 August 2018   Published: 6 September 2018


Ranchers are increasingly expected to manage grasslands for forage production and native biodiversity enhancement goals. However, longstanding relationships between grazing and plant species are often understudied because elucidating effects of grazing absence and presence often requires experimental opportunities that are difficult to establish, such as the introduction of grazing to long-term ungrazed pastures. Addressing this knowledge gap is critical for heterogeneous landscapes where site-specific properties might interact with grazing effects to ultimately structure plant communities. We conducted vegetation surveys for 3 years after grazing was reintroduced to an annual California grassland that was not grazed for more than 60 years. We investigated how grazing affected plant communities in terms of cover and richness of native and invasive species and how topographic sites of summit, backslope and toeslope altered these relationships. The plant communities were affected by the independent effects of grazing, site and year. Across years, native cover was 39% greater in grazed plots compared with ungrazed plots. Native species richness was slightly lower in ungrazed compared with grazed plots for toeslope sites relative to the other topographic positions. Invasive species cover was 17% lower in grazed plots compared with ungrazed plots and no predictors were found to contribute to significant differences across plots. Although we generally did not find expected relationships between site and plant response to grazing, this work demonstrates how managers can use livestock to quickly modify plant communities in areas with a long history of grazing absence.

Additional keywords: grassland, grazing, invasive species, livestock, Mediterranean, plant community.

Factors effecting the germination and emergence of a rangeland weed; European heliotrope (Heliotropium europaeum L.)

Talia Humphries A , Friedrich F. Graz A and Singarayer K. Florentine A B

- Author Affiliations

A Centre for Environmental Management, Faculty of Science and Technology, Federation University Australia, Mt Helen, Ballarat, PO Box 663, Vic. 3350, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 40(6) 583-590
Submitted: 24 April 2018  Accepted: 11 September 2018   Published: 24 October 2018


European heliotrope (Heliotropium europaeum L.) is an important weed in semiarid and arid Australia, due to its toxicity to livestock and its ability to out-compete crops for water and soil nutrients. It is an ephemeral species; populations appear in high densities when conditions are favourable, but seeds remain dormant in the soil seedbank for extended periods of time. This study aimed to identify environmental factors that promoted the germination of this weed and factors that de-vitalise seeds. Seeds were collected from the Australian semiarid zone, at Nanya Research Station, New South Wales. The effects on seed germination and seedling emergence of H. europaeum of alternating temperature, photoperiod, drought, salinity, pH range, heat shock combined with smoke exposure, and burial depth were investigated. The highest germination rate was observed under the highest temperature regime, 30/20°C, under a photoperiod of 12 h light and 12 h dark. The weed germinated under moderate osmotic stress, but the highest germination occurred in the control treatment (no osmotic stress). The effect of salinity and pH on percentage germination was not significant. The effect of the heat shock and smoke treatment significantly reduced seed germination, with germination inhibited when seeds were exposed to 100°C for 3 min. Burial depth had a significant effect on seedling emergence, with a burial depth of 0.5 cm reducing the germination by ~20%. It is recommended that further research into using fire and tillage interventions for H. europaeum be explored, as these may be used to reduce the viable seedbank of this weed, allowing long-term control to be achieved.

Additional keywords: arid zone, light, pest, temperature, toxic.

A prospective evaluation of contingent loans as a means of financing wild dog exclusion fences

Geoff Cockfield A D , Linda Courtenay Botterill B and Simon Kelly C

- Author Affiliations

A Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Systems and School of Commerce, The University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Qld 4350, Australia.

B School of Government & Policy, University of Canberra, Bruce, ACT 2617, Australia.

C University of Canberra, Bruce, ACT 2617, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 40(6) 591-601
Submitted: 8 May 2018  Accepted: 20 September 2018   Published: 5 November 2018


Invasive species, such as wild dogs can be considered an externality arising from the activities of pastoral enterprises, with producers having limited responsibility for the problem and limited capacity to mitigate it. There are therefore arguments for government intervention through encouraging both individual and collective control measures. Governments are however increasingly inclined to ensure recipients of support make some contribution where there are private benefits. An example of this, in Australia, is the requirement that students repay some of the cost of their tertiary education. Using the issue of wild dog exclusion fencing in south-west Queensland as a case study, this paper considers if and how a policy instrument adopted for higher education (HECS-HELP), contingent loans, could be adapted to address problems of externalities in rural Australia. Central to the issue of exclusion fences are high upfront costs and highly variable incomes that limit the ability to recoup those costs according to a predictable timeline. Considering a range of incomes and a variety of private/government shares of the cost of the fences, we examine the effects of revenue contingent loans for the construction of these fences, using model farms developed from survey data for farm businesses in south-west Queensland. We find that contingent loans could mitigate the hardship effects of additional debt and variable incomes. Businesses with smaller properties and relatively lower incomes may however struggle to pay back larger loans. Using south-west Queensland as a case study, we show how different shares of contributions change the time to pay back loans, outline how a contingent loan scheme might be administered and note some issues with integrating personal contingent loans into a collective fence arrangement.

Additional keywords: collective action, predation on livestock, public benefit, rangelands grazing.

Sustainable rangeland management in southwest Iran: application of the AHP-TOPSIS approach in ranking livelihood alternatives

Hojatollah Khedrigharibvand A B G , Hossein Azadi A C G , Hosain Bahrami D , Zbelo Tesfamariam A E , Abbas Aghajani Bazzazi F , Philippe De Maeyer A and Frank Witlox A

- Author Affiliations

A Department of Geography, Ghent University, Ghent B-9000, Belgium.

B Faculty of Natural Resources and Geosciences, Shahrekord University, Shahrekord, Iran.

C Economics Rural Development, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, University of Liège, Liège 4000, Belgium.

D Karoon Watershed Management Office (KWMO), Shahrekord, Iran.

E Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Mekelle University, Mekelle, Ethiopia.

F Department of Mining Engineering, University of Kashan, Kashan, Iran.

G Corresponding author. Email:,

The Rangeland Journal 40(6) 603-614
Submitted: 4 May 2017  Accepted: 23 August 2018   Published: 19 October 2018


This paper reports the continuation of a line of research exploring livelihood alternatives employing sustainable rangeland management (SRM). Determining appropriate alternatives was a multifaceted task, so multi-attribute decision-making (MADM) techniques were applied to a framework that incorporated livelihood alternatives and their relevant criteria. The livelihood alternatives promote balance between humans, livestock and the rangelands, and the livelihood criteria include livelihood capital and vulnerability contexts, as well as the policies, institutions and processes (PIPs) that affect each livelihood alternative and SRM as a whole. The livelihood alternatives were ranked according to SRM potential, and the most appropriate ones for the Bazoft region of south-west Iran were determined. Through a hierarchical process, nine livelihood alternatives were initially considered as being potentially suitable for SRM, based on the weights of predefined criteria. Using a collaborative process, various groups (local informants, local and regional practitioners and scientists) were asked to develop a list of livelihood criteria in order to identify appropriate livelihood alternatives. Initially, 20 experts were selected for undertaking criteria weighting, and subsequently 10 experts were selected to rank the alternatives for final decision-making. The weights of the criteria were determined by the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) technique, and the Technique for Order Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution (TOPSIS) was used to rank the alternatives. A non-resource-based livelihood was ranked as the most suitable alternative, followed by pastoralism with adaptation of various production systems. The application of the AHP-TOPSIS approach showed how criteria weightings influence the suitability of livelihood alternatives. Thus, the livelihood model enabled visualisation of the consequences of appropriate and/or inappropriate livelihoods for SRM. This study found that even the livelihood alternatives with the lowest values were worthy of consideration in planning for SRM, but they might need to be supported. Finally, the study suggested that the application of decision support models to the identification of users’ livelihood alternatives and to structuring the criteria for adoption of the various alternatives enhances informed decision-making within the context of SRM.

Additional keywords: ecosystem-based adaptation, multiattributes decision-making, non-resource-based livelihoods, mobile pastoralism, mitigation strategies, multilevel stakeholder involvement.


Climate Variability Impacts on Land Use and Livelihoods in Drylands

Reviewed by Beverley Henry


The Rangeland Journal 40(6) 615 - 618
Published: 26 November 2018

© ARS 2018


The Rangeland Journal Vol. 40 (5) - November, 2018

High soil acidity under native shrub encroachment in the Cobar Pediplain, south-eastern Australia

M. Tighe A C , N. Reid A , B. R. Wilson A and M. T. McHenry B

- Author Affiliations

A School of Environmental and Rural Science, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

B School of Land and Food, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tas. 7005, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 40(5) 451-462
Submitted: 4 December 2017  Accepted: 27 August 2018   Published: 4 October 2018


This study investigated the chemical characteristics of shallow (0–30 cm) soil profiles under shrubs in areas of dense encroachment and compared them with shallow soil profiles under nearby large trees. Consistent patterns of high soil acidity were found under shrubs, as well as lower litter alkalinity, lower relative concentrations of calcium (Ca2+), lower effective cation exchange capacity, and higher aluminium (Al3+) and sodium (Na+) in the soil profile compared with under trees. Soil pH (CaCl2) was strongly correlated with the Ca content of surface litter. These findings suggest that shrubs (which at most sites included the shrub form of tree species) cycle alkalinity differently from large and mature trees, resulting in high acidity in the shallow soil profile acidity, and possible loss of alkalinity via surface movement of material from areas of dense encroachment.

Additional keywords: landscape ecology, leaf litter, root–soil interactions, semi-arid shrublands.

Gamba grass (Andropogon gayanus Kunth.) seed persistence and germination temperature tolerance

Faiz F. Bebawi A D , Shane D. Campbell A B and Robert J. Mayer C

- Author Affiliations

A Biosecurity Queensland, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Tropical Weeds Research Centre, PO Box 187, Charters Towers, Qld 4820, Australia.

B School of Agriculture and Food Science, University of Queensland, Gatton, Qld 4343, Australia.

C Agri-Science Queensland, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Maroochy Research Station, Mayers Road, Nambour, Qld 4560, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email:;

The Rangeland Journal 40(5) 463-472
Submitted: 5 December 2017  Accepted: 4 July 2018   Published: 30 July 2018


Gamba grass (Andropogon gayanus Kunth.) is a highly invasive, naturalised Weed of National Significance in Australia due to its economic, environmental and social impacts. It outcompetes native pastures and fuels intense fires in northern Australian rangelands. To aid management of current infestations and to better understand its potential distribution, this study determined the germination response of gamba grass under a range of constant (13°C−48°C) and alternating (11/7°C–52/42°C) temperature regimes and quantified the potential longevity of soil seed banks. The effect of different soil types, levels of pasture cover and burial depths on seed longevity was investigated in the Dry Tropics of northern Queensland.

Germination of gamba grass occurred under a wide range of both constant (17°C−39°C) and alternating day/night temperatures (16/12°C–47/39°C), although the level of germination declined at the lower and higher temperature ranges. At the cooler temperatures, seed viability was not affected, but seeds went into a state of dormancy. The highest level of seed viability was recorded at the lowest constant temperature regime (13°C) and at the two lowest alternating temperatures (11/7°C and 16/12°C). A gradual but variable decline in viability occurred thereafter with increasing temperatures. At the higher temperature range (e.g. constant temperatures of 39°C−43°C and alternating temperatures of 47/39°C) both dormancy and loss of seed viability were occurring, but once alternating and constant temperatures reached above 47/39°C and 43°C all seeds were rendered unviable after 9 and 6 weeks respectively.

In the Dry Tropics of northern Queensland, viability of seeds was <1% after 12 months and nil after 24 months, irrespective of soil type or vegetation cover. However, burial depth had a significant effect, with surface located seeds exhibiting a faster rate of decline in germination and viability than seeds buried below ground (i.e. 2.5–10 cm). These findings have implications for the duration of control/eradication programs (i.e. seed persistence) and also suggest that gamba grass has the potential to greatly expand its current distribution into the relatively cooler southern latitude areas of Australia.

Additional keywords: burial depth, dormancy, soil type, temperature regimes, vegetation cover, viability.

Open woodland tree and shrub dynamics and landscape function in central Queensland after killing the trees with herbicide

P. Jones A E , T. J. Hall B , R. G. Silcock C and P. G. Filet D

- Author Affiliations

A Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Emerald, Qld 4720, Australia.

B Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Toowoomba, Qld 4350, Australia.

C Formerly Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane, Qld 4102, Australia.

D Formerly Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Emerald, Qld 4720, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 40(5) 473-483
Submitted: 22 January 2018  Accepted: 26 June 2018   Published: 25 July 2018


Herbicides are used in savanna to control tree and shrub density, primarily to maintain the value of the country for pastoral enterprises. However, the concomitant effects on biodiversity and landscape functioning need to be recognised and better understood. This study monitored tree and shrub dynamics and eventual landscape functionality in response to tree-killing over 7–8 years at two open eucalypt woodland sites in central Queensland. Paddocks denuded of trees using herbicide or not so treated were subject to three differing grazing pressures by cattle. Similarly treated but ungrazed sets of plots were subjected to either regular spring burns or were rarely burnt.

Tree and shrub growth and seedling recruitment were slightly affected by grazing pressure but regular spring burns minimised recruitment of minor woodland species and reduced the population of original saplings and seedlings that survived the herbicide. Few eucalypt seedlings emerged from soil surface samples taken each spring in any treatment, despite the presence of flowering trees in half the treatments. Capture and retention of resources, particularly rainfall and nutrients, were slightly improved by killing the trees, and worsened by grazing. We conclude that killing trees with herbicide at these sites did not adversely affect landscape function and that woody species regeneration was almost inevitable on these open eucalypt woodland native pastures.

Additional keywords: ground cover, LFA, seedlings, TRAPS.

Spring fire effects on two Aristida/Bothriochloa native pastures in central Queensland, Australia

R. G. Silcock A F , T. J. Hall B , P. Jones C , P. G. Filet D and J. Douglas E

- Author Affiliations

A Formerly Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane, Qld 4102, Australia.

B Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Toowoomba, Qld 4350, Australia.

C Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Emerald, Qld 4720, Australia.

D Formerly Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Emerald, Qld 4720, Australia.

E Formerly Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Roma, Qld 4455, Australia.

F Corresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 40(5) 485-500
Submitted: 19 December 2017  Accepted: 3 September 2018   Published: 12 October 2018


Controlled burns are commonly used to suppress woody plant regrowth and to remove accumulated unpalatable pasture from rangelands and occasionally to alter pasture composition in native pastures in central Queensland, Australia. Outcomes can be somewhat unpredictable and short-term, and reliable evidence is needed to confirm the likely long-term efficacy of such fires. We imposed a regime of repeated spring burns on native Aristida/Bothriochloa pastures growing in two contrasting eucalypt woodlands of central Queensland to determine the effects on pasture composition, ground cover, landscape stability and woody plant recruitment, all in the absence of grazing. The sites selected were a silver-leaved ironbark (Eucalyptus melanophloia F.Muell.) woodland and a poplar box (E. populnea F.Muell.) woodland.

Weather conditions precluded spring burns in 3 years out of 7 at the silver-leaved ironbark site and in 2 years out of 8 at the poplar box site. The burn intensity was variable, and frequent fires produced a marked change in abundance of only a few pasture species. Depending on the site, fires significantly increased the frequency of Enneapogon spp., Bothriochloa bladhii (Retz.) S.T.Blake and Dichanthium sericeum (R.Br.) A.Camus and reduced the frequency of some minor components such as Cymbopogon spp., Panicum effusum R.Br., Cenchrus ciliaris L. and, ephemerally, that of some forbs. Contrary to expectation, only Aristida calycina R.Br. declined in abundance among the many Aristida species present, and the abundance of Heteropogon contortus (L.) P.Beauv. ex Roem. & Schult. barely increased under regular spring fires. The total germinable seeds of herbaceous species in the soil each spring was significantly reduced by burning in the previous spring.

Repeated spring fires rarely reinforced any initial change induced by burning, and slightly lowered average ground cover as well as various indices of landscape stability and ecosystem functionality. Changes produced were not always consistent across the two communities. Though prescribed burning is often important for maintaining grazing productivity and landscape values, very regular use is not recommended.

Additional keywords: Eucalyptus melanophloia, Eucalyptus populnea, ground cover, landscape ecology, pasture composition, seed banks.

Swiss alpine summer farming: current status and future development under climate change

Felix Herzog A C and Irmi Seidl B

- Author Affiliations

A Agroscope, Reckenholzstr. 191, CH-8046 Zurich, Switzerland.

B WSL (Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape), Zürcherstr. 111, CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland.

C Corresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 40(5) 501-511
Submitted: 14 March 2018  Accepted: 4 July 2018   Published: 23 July 2018

Journal compilation © Australian Rangeland Society 2018 Open Access CC BY-NC-ND


High altitude grazing is widespread around the globe and also has a long tradition in European mountain regions. One-third of the Swiss farmland consists of summer pastures: seasonally used marginal pastures without permanent settlements, which extend between the grasslands and forests of permanent mountain settlements and unproductive mountain tops. Farmers’ main motivations for using those pastures have been and still are forage provision and health benefits for grazing animals, benefits for labour distribution between home farm and summer farm, and cultural ecosystem services such as the maintenance of a tradition and the associated lifestyle. Yet, remote pastures are being abandoned and are prone to reforestation, while more productive and accessible pastures are intensified. Those processes are related to changes in management practices, to scarcity of labour and – to a lesser extent – to climate change. We summarise the agronomic and ecological status of Swiss summer pastures, in particular with respect to livestock keeping, biodiversity and climate change, and speculate on future trends of summer farming.

Additional keywords: biodiversity, farmers’ perception, marginal grassland, rangeland, rough grazing, seasonal grazing, transhumance.

Investigating the greenhouse gas emissions of grass-fed beef relative to other greenhouse gas abatement strategies

Lance Gagelman A and Bailey Norwood A B

- Author Affiliations

A Department of Agricultural Economics, 417 Agricultural Hall, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA.

B Corresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 40(5) 513-525
Submitted: 19 November 2016  Accepted: 11 July 2018   Published: 1 August 2018


Beef is often identified as one of the foods with the largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, causing climate-conscious persons to seek changes in their diets. This study evaluated the ability of a household to reduce its GHG emissions by replacing conventional US beef with grass-fed beef and compared its effectiveness to three other strategies: replacing beef with chicken, becoming a vegetarian, and purchasing carbon offsets. These potential GHG-reducing strategies were considered within a model of a typical US household, using a framework that accounts for all household expenditures and carbon emissions. Replacing beef with chicken and adopting vegetarianism reduced the household’s GHG emissions by 1% and 3%, respectively. Grass-fed beef only reduced emissions if the GHG sequestration rate for pastureland and/or the price of grass-fed beef was high. It is shown that persons paying higher prices for grass-fed beef with the goal of smaller GHG emissions might want to consider buying conventional beef instead and using the savings to purchase carbon offsets. Also, although vegetarianism is often touted as a climate-friendly diet, the model shows that meat-eaters can achieve the same GHG reduction by spending only US$19 per year on carbon offsets. These results assume that additional land for grazing is acquired from recently abandoned cropland, which gives grass-fed beef its best chance at being climate-friendly. Alternative land-use assumptions would only reinforce the result that grass-fed beef does not emit less GHG emissions than conventional beef.

Additional keywords: carbon footprint of food, carbon offsets, carbon sequestration, climate change, global warming, vegetarianism.

A model for locating fodder shrub plantations sites in the Jordanian badiyah

S. Saïdi A , G. Gintzburger B F , L. Gazull C , J. Wallace D and S. Christiansen E

- Author Affiliations

A Geomatics & Range Ecology Consulting, Montpellier 34000, France.

B Badia Consulting, 11 Lee-Steere Drive, Mariginiup, WA 6078, Australia.

C CIRAD TA C-105/D, Baillarguet F-34398, Montpellier, France.

D CSIRO (retired), 91 Bruce Street, Nedlands, WA 6009, Australia.

E USDA-ARS (retired), 2926 NW Chardonnay Lane, Bend, OR 97703, USA.

F Corresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 40(5) 527-538
Submitted: 13 September 2017  Accepted: 25 June 2018   Published: 19 July 2018


We developed a GIS desktop model to accurately locate and map prospective areas for sustainable establishment and production of Atriplex plantations and other fodder shrubs in the desert in the north-eastern Jordanian Badiyah. The aim is to provide a tool to assist managers, local communities and development projects in Mediterranean arid and semi-arid rangelands. The model uses freely available data and GIS layers of current land use, land cover, settlement location, soil information, and derivatives from a digital elevation model to provide critical locations of drainage lines and to calculate Areas of Accumulated Water from concentrated runoff. The model identified, accurately located and mapped ~4500 ha (1.44% of the test zone) as technically appropriate for potential shrub plantations sites. The final site map must be field-checked and validated with the local communities and authorities. Our model has potential for wide application over arid and semi-arid Mediterranean rangelands from Morocco to Pakistan, with local adjustment of our parameters and rules. The model considerably reduces the risk and costs of fodder plantation establishment operations, thus increasing the feasibility of efforts to maximise fodder shrub establishment, survival and production.

Additional keywords: Atriplex, Digital Elevation Model (DEM), floodwater farming, GIS modelling, Mediterranean zone, rainfall equivalent, rainwater harvesting, rangeland management, Salsola.