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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. 41 (1) - February, 2019

Rotational grazing and exclosure improves grassland condition of the halophytic steppe in Flooding Pampa (Argentina) compared with continuous grazing

María Cristina VecchioA,D, V. A. BolañosA,B, R. A. GolluscioB,C and A. M. RodríguezC

- Author Affiliations

AUniversidad Nacional de La Plata, Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias y Forestales, La Plata, Argentina.

BCONICET-Universidad de Buenos Aires, Instituto de Investigaciones Ecológicas y Fisiológicas Vinculadas a la Agricultura (IFEVA), Buenos Aires, Argentina.

CUniversidad de Buenos Aires, Facultad de Agronomía, Departamento de Producción Animal, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

DCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(1): 1–12

Submitted: 17 February 2018  Accepted: 12 December 2018  Published: 8 February 2019


The most common grazing management applied on rangelands is continuous grazing. However, it can cause negative changes in vegetation structure and ecosystem functioning, leading to rangeland degradation. In Flooding Pampa rangelands, scientific evidence in favour of rotational over continuous grazing was developed on the humid mesophytic meadow and the humid prairie communities, but not on the halophytic steppe community. We evaluated the changes in species composition, richness and diversity, vegetation and litter cover, functional group composition and forage quality during 8 years in halophytic steppe subjected to both continuous or rotational grazing, and exclusion from grazing. Grazing exclusion and a rotational grazing system caused significant changes in the vegetation structure compared with continuous grazing. These treatments increased vegetation and litter cover, the contribution of summer and annual and perennial winter grasses, all them of high forage value, and encouraged the appearance of several grasses adapted to fertile, well drained and non-saline soils. Because of these structural changes, species richness, diversity and pastoral value increased in the halophytic steppe of the Flooding Pampa, in a manner previously demonstrated in other grassland communities of this region.

Additional keywords: cattle, continuous grazing, exclosure, halomorphic soil, pastoral value, rangeland management.

Creating sustainable future landscapes: a role for landscape ecology in the rangelands of Northern Australia

Diane PearsonA,E,F, Muhammad NawazB and Robert WassonC,D

- Author Affiliations

ASchool of Environment, Research Institute for Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Northern Territory 0909, Australia.

BDepartment of Geography, National University of Singapore, 1 Arts Link, Kent Ridge, Singapore 117570.

CCollege of Science and Technology, James Cook University, Smithfield, Qld 4878, Australia.

DInstitute of Water Policy, National University of Singapore, 469A Bukit Timah Road, Tower Block, Singapore 259770.

ESchool of Agriculture and Environment, College of Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand.

FCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(1): 13–21

Submitted: 28 March 2018  Accepted: 7 November 2018  Published: 15 January 2019


The principles and theory of landscape ecology can be used with careful spatial planning to maintain ecosystem function and services in the face of urbanisation and agricultural intensification of the rangelands. In the largely undisturbed catchment of Darwin harbour in Northern Australia, an area of cattle grazing, some agriculture and small urban areas, seasonally waterlogged grassy valley floors known as dambos are demonstrated to be of vital importance for the minimisation of fine sediment transport to the harbour. If the dambos are disturbed fine sediment from them will have potentially detrimental effects on the biodiversity of the upper harbour and may also add pollutants contained in the fine sediment. The incorporation of such important landscape features into landscape planning in rangelands worldwide is critical to the creation of sustainable future landscapes. Techniques that monitor condition and function of the landscape coupled with spatially informed design are able to assist in preserving the important ecosystem services that natural features can provide and thus have a significant contribution to make in landscape sustainability.

Additional keywords: dambos, geomorphological processes, landscape design, landscape function, landscape planning.

The composition, richness, and evenness of seedlings from the soil seed bank of a semi-arid steppe in northern China are affected by long-term stocking rates of sheep and rainfall variation

A. HuA, J. ZhangA, X. J. ChenA, J. P. MillnerB, S. H. ChangA, S. BowatteA and F. J. HouA,C

- Author Affiliations

AState Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-Ecosystems, Key Laboratory of Grassland Livestock Industry Innovation, Ministry of Agriculture, China, College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, 730000, Gansu, China.

BMassey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

CCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(1): 23–32

Submitted: 6 March 2018 Accepted: 14 December 2018 Published: 22 January 2019


The soil seed bank has a large influence on the potential for grassland restoration. This study aimed to characterise the composition, density, richness, and evenness of seedlings emerging from the soil seed bank under different sheep stocking rates, in a summer grazing system, in semi-arid China. Soil was sampled in 2015, a year with extreme drought conditions and in 2016, a normal rainfall year. The soil seed bank was assessed by measuring seedling emergence under laboratory conditions. Comprising 16 species, 85.4% of the seedlings were concentrated within a depth of 0–5 cm. Drought significantly reduced the density and richness of the seedlings. Grazing increased the richness of seedlings by increasing the richness of aboveground species, and grazing significantly reduced the evenness of the seedlings by reducing the evenness of aboveground species. Drought significantly reduced the similarities between the seedlings and the aboveground species, whereas grazing increased similarities in both years. This study revealed that the density and richness of seedlings were higher in higher stocking rate in drought year. We conclude that negative effects on density, richness and evenness of the seedlings caused by drought can be overcome by rotational grazing especially at higher stocking rate.

Additional keywords: biodiversity, drought, grasslands, grazing intensity, seed banks.

Impacts of bracteole removal and seeding rate on seedling emergence of halophyte shrubs: implications for rangeland rehabilitation in arid environments

Mounir LouhaichiA,B,H, Sawsan HassanA, Ali Mekki MissaouiC, Serkan AtesB, Steven L. PetersenD, Abdoul Aziz NianeE, Slim SlimF and Azaiez Ouled BelgacemG

- Author Affiliations

AInternational Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), PO Box 950764 – Amman, Jordan.

BDepartment of Animal and Rangeland Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97330, USA.

CCentre for Applied Genetic Technologies, University of Georgia, 111 Riverbend Road, Athens, GA 30602, USA.

DDepartment of Plant and Wildlife Sciences, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602, USA.

EInternational Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), PO Box 114/5055 – Beirut, Lebanon.

FHigher School of Agriculture of Mateur, University of Carthage, Mateur, Tunisia.

GICARDA, Arabian Peninsula Regional Program, PO Box 13979 – Dubai, UAE.

HCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(1): 33–41

Submitted: 4 December 2017 Accepted: 8 January 2019 Published: 12 February 2019


Direct seeding techniques often result in unsatisfactory outcomes in rangeland rehabilitation, primarily because of low seedling emergence and poor establishment. Seed processing techniques aimed at improving seedling emergence have gained interest by pasture managers. The purpose of this study was to investigate the combined effects of bracteole removal and seeding rate on seedling emergence in seven halophytic species: Atriplex halimus, A. canescens, A. leucoclada, A. nummularia, A. lentiformis, Salsola vermiculata and Haloxylon aphyllum under semiarid conditions in Tel Hadya (Syria). Each of these species was evaluated for seedling emergence under two seed treatments (bracteoles removed and non-removed bracteoles) with three seeding rates (10, 30 and 60 seeds per pot), in a completely randomised block design. The results showed a positive effect of seed treatment on seedling emergence for all studied species. The native A. halimus had the highest emergence percentages whereas the introduced A. mummularia, had the lowest. However, there were no significant effects of seeding rates on seedling emergence. These results showed that bracteole removal could improve germination and seedling emergence, and potentially increase the rate of establishment of the species studied. Therefore, when implementing rangeland rehabilitation projects, bracteole removal needs to be considered. The native S. vermiculata should be recommended for direct seeding in the West Asia and North Africa region given its high seedling emergence, known high palatability, nutritive value, and high auto-regeneration performance.

Additional keywords: arid and semiarid ecosystems, direct seeding, indigenous plants, rangeland restoration, seed scarification treatments.

Local community involvement in forest rangeland management: case study of compensation on forest area closed to grazing in Morocco

Said MoukrimA,B,E, Said LahssiniC, Mustapha NaggarB, Hicham LahlaoiD, Nabil RifaiB, Moustapha ArahouA and Laïla RhaziA

- Author Affiliations

AMohammed V University in Rabat, Faculty of Sciences, Research Center of Plant and Microbial Biotechnologies, Biodiversity and Environment, Avenue Ibn-Battouta B.P. 1014 RP, Agdal, Rabat, Morocco.

BWater and Forest Department, 3 Rue Harroun Errachid, Agdal, Rabat, Morocco.

CNational School of Forest Engineers, Department of Forestry Development, Bd My Youssef BP. 511. Tabriquet, Salé, Morocco.

DHassan II University in Casablanca, Faculty of Sciences Ain Chock, Geosciences Laboratory, Morocco.

ECorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(1): 43–53

Submitted: 9 November 2017 Accepted: 17 October 2018 Published: 28 November 2018


Unmanaged livestock grazing is the greatest threat to the health and sustainability of forest rangelands in Morocco. Historically, communities have developed ingenious traditional systems in order to regulate natural resource uses. However, currently most of these principles have been undermined and have led to open access of a common pool resource. To achieve viable solutions to unmanaged livestock grazing in forestlands, local community involvement was introduced in Moroccan forestry early on. The main objective of this study was to show the importance of an original mechanism called compensation on forest area closed to grazing, carried out by the Forestry Department to involve communities that have the right of use in the restoration of forest rangeland ecosystems. It also aims to assess the mechanism’s technical and socioeconomic impacts.

Analysis of the process of community participation in the case of Moroccan forest management revealed that it was perceived and implemented in different ways, and considered either as an end in itself or (rarely) as a means to an end. Forest managers and use-rights holders appreciate the mechanism of compensation for forest areas closed to grazing. Since the implementation of this program, the number of grazing association members has increased. This trend has been associated with a positive impact on the reduction in the number of offences and on improving reforestation success rates. In addition, remote sensing showed a positive trend in the relative density and the evolution of the health of vegetation in the areas covered by this mechanism. This program helped to develop consensus in forest ecosystem restoration that will help managers to break the vicious cycle of unmanaged grazing, and promote a new collective stewardship of this precious land. As a result of this success, this program should be replicated and valued. It should be presented in the future as a tool for natural resource conservation with unintended human capital development benefits.

Additional keywords: association, collect earth, compensation, North Africa, sustainable management, traditional institutions ‘Jmaa’.

Biosolids application increases grasshopper abundance in the short term in a northern Canadian grassland

Emma S. GaudreaultA, Robert G. LalondeA, Kirstie LawsonA, Frank I. DoyleB and Karen E. HodgesA,C

- Author Affiliations

ADepartment of Biology, University of British Columbia Okanagan, 1177 Research Road, Kelowna, BC. V1V 1V7, Canada.

BWildlife Dynamics Consulting, 5575 Kleanza Drive, Terrace, BC. V8G 0A7, Canada.

CCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(1): 55–64

Submitted: 28 July 2018 Accepted: 12 December 2018 Published: 24 January 2019


Degraded grasslands are common worldwide, often due to overgrazing by livestock; such degradation often reduces plant growth and water quality, while increasing soil erosion, wildfires, and invasive species. Recent restoration efforts have used organic amendments to increase soil nutrients, improve water retention, and increase forage production. Biosolids, the stabilised and pathogen-treated remains from wastewater treatment plants, have strong impacts on soil nutrients and plant growth, but there is very little known about impacts on higher trophic levels. We worked on northern grasslands in British Columbia, Canada, to test whether biosolids applications changed grasshopper abundances, body sizes, or species richness. We used hoop transects to measure density and timed net samples to determine richness and evenness. There were significantly higher (~3.8×) grasshopper densities at sites where biosolids were applied 1–2 years before sampling compared with control sites or sites where biosolids were applied in the year of sampling. Tibia lengths of grasshoppers varied with treatment, species, and sex, but there was no clear signature of biosolids leading to bigger body sizes. There were no significant differences in species richness or equitability in relation to the year of the biosolids application. Collectively, our results show that biosolids have large impacts on grasshopper densities, but no clear impact on community structure or body size. Because grasshoppers can be dominant insect herbivores and are critical prey for many birds and mammals, our results suggest biosolids could be an important tool in the context of site restoration or efforts to improve populations of insectivorous vertebrates.

Additional keywords: abundance, biosolids, British Columbia, diversity, grasshoppers, grasslands.

Prediction of the livestock carrying capacity using neural network in the meadow steppe

T. S. WuA,B,C, H. P. FuA,B,G, G. JinD, H. F. WuE and H. M. BaiA,B,F

- Author Affiliations

ASchool of Microelectronics, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072, China.

BTianjin Key Laboratory of Imaging and Sensing Microelectronic Technology, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072, China.

CSchool of Physics and Electronic Information, Hulunbuir College, Hulunbuir 021008, China.

DHulunbuir City Hailar Meteorological Bureau, Hulunbuir 021000, China.

EChengdu Ganide Technology, Chengdu 610073, China.

FSchool of Mathematics and Statistics, Hulunbuir College, Hulunbuir 021008, China.

GCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(1): 65–72

Submitted: 15 May 2018 Accepted: 21 October 2018 Published: 3 January 2019


In order to predict the livestock carrying capacity in meadow steppe, a method using back propagation neural network is proposed based on the meteorological data and the remote-sensing data of Normalised Difference Vegetation Index. In the proposed method, back propagation neural network was first utilised to build a behavioural model to forecast precipitation during the grass-growing season (June–July–August) from 1961 to 2015. Second, the relationship between precipitation and Normalised Difference Vegetation Index during the grass-growing season from 2000 to 2015 was modelled with the help of back propagation neural network. The prediction results demonstrate that the proposed back propagation neural network-based model is effective in the forecast of precipitation and Normalised Difference Vegetation Index. Thus, an accurate prediction of livestock carrying capacity is achieved based on the proposed back propagation neural network-based model. In short, this work can be used to improve the utilisation of grassland and prevent the occurrence of vegetation degradation by overgrazing in drought years for arid and semiarid grasslands.

Additional keywords: BPNN, NDVI, precipitation, prediction.

Grazing promotes plant functional diversity in alpine meadows on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

Yu LiA, Shikui DongA,B,H, Qingzhu GaoC,H, Yong ZhangD, Shiliang LiuA, David SwiftE, Jinbo ZhaoA, Hasbagan GanjurjavC, Guozheng HuC, Xuexia WangF, Yulong YanC,G, Xujuan CaoC, Wenhan LiC, Wenrong LuoC, Zhenzhen ZhaoA, Shuai LiA and Xiaoxia GaoA

- Author Affiliations

AState Key Laboratory of Water Environment Simulation, School of Environment, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China.

BDepartment of Natural Resources, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-3001, USA.

CInstitute of Environment and Sustainable Development in Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, China.

DNational Plateau Wetland Research Centre, College of Wetlands, Southwest Forestry University, Kunming, 650224, China.

ENatural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1499, USA.

FBeijing Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences, Beijing 100097, China.

GSchool of Ecology and Environment, Inner Mongolia University, Hohhot, 010021, China.

HCorresponding authors. Email: dongshikui@;

The Rangeland Journal 41(1): 73–81

Submitted: 11 September 2018 Accepted: 2 November 2018 Published: 8 January 2019


Grazing exclosures and rotational grazing have been extensively applied to prevent grassland degradation and to restore grassland ecosystem function and services. The mechanisms associated with changes in alpine plant traits, and functional diversity under different grazing regimes have not been deeply explored. We examined the variations of plant leaf traits and functional diversity of an alpine meadow under different grazing regimes in a 3-year experiment. The results showed, after 3 years of yak grazing, that the coverage of Stipa capillata increased, whereas that of Kobresia pygmaea decreased under grazing exclosure. Stipa capillata had a lower ratio of leaf nitrogen content to phosphorus content (N : P) under grazing exclosure than under rotational grazing and continuous grazing, whereas Kobresia pygmaea showed no significant differences among grazing treatments. Among grazing regimes, the specific leaf area (SLA) of Stipa capillata was similar, whereas that of Kobresia pygmaea was higher under grazing exclosure. At the interspecific level, leaf area and weight were negatively correlated with SLA, whereas leaf carbon (C) content, leaf N content, leaf C : P and leaf N : P were negatively related to leaf P content and leaf C : N. These findings indicated that growth-defence trade-off strategies might lead to variations in plant traits and coverage. Large-leaved species, due to high maintenance costs, were less commonly distributed in the community, and they were better defended and unpalatable to yaks due to lower SLA, this formed the species coverage distribution pattern of the community. Various N and P utilisation efficiency of different species indicated diverse economic resources utilisation strategies might be due to niche differentiation in the community. Plots that had been excluded from grazing had the lowest functional richness, evenness, and divergence. Rotational and continuous grazing were equivalent in promoting alpine plant functional diversity.

Additional keywords: leaf N : P ratio, rotational grazing, specific leaf area.

Mechanisms regulating spatial changes in grassland productivity following nutrient addition in northern China

Na ZhaoA,B, Xinqing ShaoB, Chao ChenC, Jiangwen FanD and Kun WangB,E

- Author Affiliations

AKey Laboratory of Adaptation and Evolution of Plateau Biota, Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xining 810008, P.R. China.

BDepartment of Grassland Science, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, P.R. China.

CBeijing Research and Development Centre for Grass and Environment, Beijing 100097, P.R. China.

DInstitute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, P.R. China.

ECorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(1): 83–96

Submitted: 26 April 2018 Accepted: 18 January 2019 Published: 15 January 2019


Plant biomass is the most fundamental component of ecosystems. The spatial stability of plant biomass is important, and the mechanisms regulating plant biomass spatial variability in variable environments are a central focus of ecology. However, they have rarely been explored. We conducted an experiment to test how diversity and functional traits affected variation in biomass and community response to nutrient availability in three plant communities: natural; forb, legume, and bunchgrass; and rhizomatous grass. We found that biomass stability rarely changed with increasing taxonomic species richness and functional group richness but declined with increasing Shannon–Weiner indices (the combination of richness and evenness) and functional trait diversity. However, differences in plant species composition generated different responses in both the amount and spatial variation of biomass following nutrient addition. Because rhizomatous grasses are weakly competitive in nutrient-poor conditions, interaction between resource-acquisitive (grass) and stress-tolerant (forb) species in the natural community conferred the greatest overall stability. The rapid nutrient acquisition ability of the rhizomatous grass Leymus chinensis was stimulated in nutrient-abundant conditions. The functional traits of this dominant species overrode the diversity interaction effects of the natural and forb, legume, and bunchgrass communities. This ultimately resulted in the rhizomatous grass community being the most stable. Community stability was strongly determined by a few key species, particularly rhizomatous grasses, rather than by the average response of all species, thereby supporting the mass ratio hypothesis. Our results indicated that rhizomatous grasses could provide vegetative productivity to reduce soil loss and prevent degradation of L. chinensis-dominant grassland. Thus, protecting specific species is critical for maintaining rangeland ecosystem functions. Moreover, the conservation importance of grasses, non-leguminous forbs, legumes, or even rare species could not be ignored. Maintaining stability mechanisms in natural grasslands is complex, and therefore, further studies need to focus on finding a unified mechanism that can regulate appreciable biomass variation under shifting environmental conditions.

Additional keywords: biodiversity, ecosystem functions, fertiliser, functional trait, species composition.


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