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The Rangeland Journal Abstracts

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These abstracts are from the latest issue of The Rangeland Journal.


The Rangeland Journal - Vol 40 (3)  May 2018

Feeding flocks on rangelands: insights into the local ecological knowledge of shepherds in Boulemane province (Morocco)

N.-E. Gobindram A , A. Boughalmi B , C. H. Moulin A , M. Meuret A , D. Bastianelli A , A. Araba B and M. Jouven A C

A SELMET, Univ. Montpellier, INRA, Montpellier SupAgro, CIRAD, 34000 Montpellier, France.

B IAV Hassan II, Rabat, Morocco.

C Corresponding author. Email:;

The Rangeland Journal 40(3) 207-218
Submitted: 4 February 2017  Accepted: 26 April 2018   Published: 8 June 2018


In Mediterranean regions, traditional pastoral systems involve shepherds leading flocks along daily grazing circuits on arid rangelands. Over the past decades, these systems have become increasingly agro-pastoral and the importance given to feeding flocks on rangelands is variable. Our study aimed at investigating the local ecological knowledge (LEK) about forage plants and animal foraging behaviour of shepherds in a pastoral area of Morocco, and eventually analysing the possible interactions between such LEK, its utilisation for grazing management and the pastoral status of the farm. Eleven semi-directive interviews with shepherds, either salaried or owning their own farm, were carried out at three sites differing in terms of agricultural context and available forage resources. Shepherds’ LEK included recognising and naming forage plants and rangeland types, identifying preferred or less preferred plants or plant parts, describing circumstantial palatability of plants depending mainly on season, other locally available plants and watering times. LEK about animal feeding preferences and its integration into grazing management was more extensive at sites where pastoral systems were still most valued, and for shepherds who were either experienced or who were considering the activity in the future. Conversely, young salaried shepherds or farmer-shepherds who devoted more attention to the agricultural component of their system seemed to be less knowledgeable about the subject. In a context where pastoralism is challenged both by the higher profitability of agriculture and by the depletion of pastoral resources as a result of frequent droughts and decreased surface area devoted to grazing lands, the future of such LEK is uncertain. The perpetuation of LEK might depend on the ability of local extension services to value farmers’ LEK and to help them enrich it with scientific knowledge.

Additional keywords: grazing management, indigenous knowledge, pastoral industry, rangeland pasture.


Does the ecological quality of inherited campsites cause persistent inequalities and poverty in pastoral Mongolia?

F. Joly A B F , G. Lefebvre C , A. Sandoz C D and B. Hubert E

A Association pour le cheval de Przewalski: TAKH, Tour du Valat, Le Sambuc, 13200 Arles, France.

B ABIES/AgroParisTech, 19 Avenue du Maine, 75732 Paris Cedex 15, France.

C Institut de recherche pour la conservation des zones humides méditerranéennes de la Tour du Valat, Le Sambuc, 13200 Arles, France.

D UFR Sciences, Université d’Aix Marseille, 3 place Victor Hugo, Marseille Cedex 3, 13331, France.

E INRA, Unité d’Ecodéveloppement, Site Agroparc, 84914 Avignon, France.

F Corresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 40(3) 219-230
Submitted: 27 May 2017  Accepted: 23 April 2018   Published: 23 May 2018


Most socioeconomic surveys carried out in Mongolia since the regime change of the 1990s report persistent inequalities and poverty in pastoral communities. To understand the reasons for this phenomenon, we studied the relationships between livestock numbers and ecological characteristics of herders’ seasonal campsites in a community of the Mongolian Gobi. We classified herders with help of a regression tree into three categories, where herd size is correlated with the proportion of the Stipa glareosa and Psammochloa villosa grasses around campsites. We established in addition from livestock-based income estimations that poverty could affect the small herd category, owning on average less than 180 heads of livestock. We finally observed that herders mostly transmit their campsites to their descendants, particularly in the small herd category. Herders are hence durably associated with campsites whose quality is related to livestock numbers, which may be a factor of inequality and poverty persistence. To further understand these processes, the zootechnical influence of S. glareosa and P. villosa should be investigated, as well as historical and anthropological determinants of campsites repartition.

Additional keywords: forage quality, herder typology, income, land use policy, regression tree, remote sensing.


Land rental, prices and the management of China’s grasslands: the case of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region

Qiao Guanghua A , Zhang Bao A , Zhang Jing B and Colin Brown B C

A College of Economics and Management, Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China.

B School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld 4067, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 40(3) 231-240
Submitted: 20 October 2017  Accepted: 1 March 2018   Published: 5 April 2018


Heterogeneity among China’s pastoral households raises the prospect that efficient transfer of grassland-use rights may improve grassland management. More understanding of grassland rental is needed if policy incentives on grassland management are to be refined. Based on a survey of 252 herders in the typical steppe, desert steppe and sandy grassland areas of Inner Mongolia, a significant part of China’s overall grasslands, a multinomial logit model was used to explore factors influencing the decision to: (i) rent in grassland, (ii) rent out grassland, or (iii) neither rent in nor rent out grassland. A multiple regression model then investigated the factors influencing the price of this rented grassland, including a focus on the factors of the exchange. The findings suggest that rental has facilitated a level of specialisation whereby households with less own-grassland area, more livestock, more intensive production systems, lower perceptions of degradation, and some off-farm income (but not high levels) being more likely to rent in land. The likelihood was independent of the type of grassland, extent of grazing bans or grassland subsidies received. Similarly, households more likely to rent out land had fewer livestock and some land subject to grazing bans. The specialisation and larger land areas has enabled households renting in land to have lower stocking rates than those of households not renting grassland. However, analysis of rental prices reveals limitations in the rental market, with prices dependent on the form of contract and relationship of the participants in the exchange, as well as on area rented and type of grassland. Thus, improving land transfer may be warranted to facilitate further specialisation and improved grazing management and herder livelihoods.

Additional keywords: grassland condition, grassland incentives, grazing pressure, pastoral household specialisation.


How can sedentarised pastoralists be more technically efficient? A case from eastern Inner Mongolia

Shuhao Tan A C , Tingyu Li A , Bo Liu A and Lynn Huntsinger B

A School of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Renmin University of China, Zhongguancun Street 59, Haidian District, 100872 Beijing, P.R. China.

B Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-3110, USA.

C Corresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 40(3) 241-249
Submitted: 22 May 2017  Accepted: 19 March 2018   Published: 1 May 2018


Technical efficiency (TE) means the effectiveness of production outputs attained for a given level of production inputs. This study examines pastoralist TE and its determinants for 416 pastoralist households from two leagues (prefectures) in eastern Inner Mongolia, a typical rangeland area in China. A one-step stochastic frontier method is applied to analyse data about household livestock production in 2011 to assess opportunities for increasing income and reducing poverty through increased TE. The main results show that pastoralists, in general, did not perform well with currently available technology, with the average TE score just 0.50 out of 1.0. Only about one-fifth (20.2%) of respondents had TE scores >0.7, and the same proportion had a TE score <0.3. More than one-quarter had TE scores in the range 0.3–0.5, and slightly more than one-third had TE scores in the range 0.5–0.7. About 83% of the variation in pastoralist livestock production is explained by the loss of TE. The age of the head of household, available pasture, investment in covered pens and participation in the rangeland rental market were found to influence TE. Encouraging younger pastoralists to enter pastoralism, and enlarging available grazing land through the rangeland rental market or cooperative rangeland use would likely enhance pastoralist performance; promoting investment in covered-pen construction could also improve productivity and alleviate a rangeland degradation cycle, which is pervasive in the study area.

Additional keywords: livestock production, rangeland degradation, rangeland rental market, stochastic frontier method.


Geospatial analyses of local economic structures in the rangeland areas of the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia

Boyd D. Blackwell A D , Brian E. Dollery B , Andrew M. Fischer C and Jim A. Mcfarlane A

A CRC for Remote Economic Participation, UNE Business School, EBL Building, Trevenna Road, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

B UNE Centre for Local Government, EBL Building, Trevenna Road, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

C Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Science Building, Old School Road, University of Tasmania, Newnham, Tas. 7248, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 40(3) 251-262
Submitted: 16 June 2017  Accepted: 10 April 2018   Published: 14 May 2018


We examine the economic structure of Australian local government areas in the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia using economic base theory and location quotients. Whereas the economic base approach is long established, in this paper we extend the three-staged geospatial visualisation method of Blackwell et al. (2017) to two additional state jurisdictions. Focusing on the economic structure of rangeland local government areas, we find that these vary significantly, implying that no single generic development policy is likely to be effective, but rather these need to be crafted individually. We demonstrate that geospatial visualisations of employment location quotients can identify local economic vulnerability as well as opportunity.

Additional keywords: geospatial visualisation, regional development, remote Australia, rural Australia.


Effect of weaning strategy on performance, behaviour and blood parameters of yak calves (Poephagus grunniens)

Peipei Liu A B , Shujie Liu C , Allan Degen D , Qiang Qiu A , Quanmin Dong C , Xiaoping Jing A , Jiaojiao Zhang A , Qi Yan A , Wenming Zheng E and Luming Ding A F

A State Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-Ecosystem, Institute of Arid Agroecology, School of Life Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 73000, China.

B Key Laboratory of Alpine Ecology and Biodiversity, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China.

C National Key Laboratory of Cultivating Base of Plateau Grazing Animal Nutrition and Ecology of Qinghai Province, Qinghai Academy of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Xining 810016, China.

D Desert Animal Adaptations and Husbandry, Wyler Department of Dryland Agriculture, Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of Negev, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel.

E Haibei Demonstration Zone of Plateau Modern Ecological Animal Husbandry Science and Technology, Haibei 812200, China.

F Corresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 40(3) 263-270
Submitted: 7 November 2018  Accepted: 9 April 2018   Published: 15 May 2018


Early weaning can improve the body condition and reproductive performance of cows, but can be very stressful to both the calf and cow. The objectives of this study were to examine and compare the performance, behaviour and blood parameters of yak calves that were weaned using different methods. Twenty-six calves (94.3 ± 2.4 days old) were assigned to four weaning treatments: (1) weaned naturally following ad libitum sucking (NW, n = 13); (2) weaned abruptly and separated permanently from their mothers (AW, n = 5); (3) separated temporarily from their mothers for 15 days and then reunited (TW, n = 5); and (4) fitted with nose plates to prevent sucking for 15 days but allowed free access to their mothers (NP, n = 3). Girth size, as a measure of calf performance, was largest in NW and AW calves, intermediate in NP calves and smallest in TW calves. This indicated that the AW calves were able to consume adequate energy to compensate for the absence of milk. The weaned calves (TW and NP) spent more time grazing and, in general, played less than NW calves. In addition, TW calves stood more but walked less, whereas NP calves lay more but grazed and stood less than NW calves. Blood insulin was lower on Day 19 in the TW calves than in the other three treatments. We concluded that abrupt and permanent weaning was an appropriate strategy for yak calves on the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau.

Additional keywords: early weaning, grazing management, Qinghai-Tibetan plateau, stress response.


Vegetation responses to fire history and soil properties in grazed semi-arid tropical savanna

Gabrielle Lebbink A D , Rod Fensham A B and Robyn Cowley C

A School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia.

B Queensland Herbarium, Department of Environment and Resource Management, Toowong, Qld 4066, Australia.

C Department of Primary Industries and Resources, GPO Box 3000, Darwin, NT 0801, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 40(3) 271-285
Submitted: 18 July 2017  Accepted: 25 January 2018   Published: 5 June 2018


A long-term (1993–2016) fire experiment in the grazed semi-arid savanna of the Northern Territory was used to investigate the relative impacts of soil properties and fire history on vegetation composition and diversity in grassland and woodland habitats. Subtle variation in soil texture influenced vegetation composition and abundance independently of fire variables and was generally a more important control on floristic patterns. Total species richness, lifeform richness and the abundance and presence of many individual plant species declined with increasing clay content. Linear mixed effect models with combined habitat data, showed total richness and richness of annual and perennial forbs, annual grasses and legumes increased with more frequent fire. Perennial grass abundance and richness was not influenced by fire. Total and lifeform mean richness did not vary between two and four yearly or early and late burnt treatments. Richness and abundance was generally significantly higher on burnt blocks than unburnt blocks regardless of fire season or interval. These results suggest greater diversity after burning is a result of an increase in ephemeral species. However, the overall influence of fire on floristic patterns is relatively moderate and fire regimes may therefore be manipulated for other management imperatives, such as fauna conservation, carbon sequestration and pastoral productivity without substantial impacts on botanical values in semi-arid tropical savannas.

Additional keywords: clay, competition, fire interval, fire season, germination, grazing.


Impact of seedling age on the survival and productivity of Atriplex halimus shrubs in drought-affected rangelands of Jordan

Yahya Al-Satari A E , Ezz Al-Dein Al-Ramamneh B , Jamal Ayad C , Mohamad Abu Dalbouh D , Ibrahim Amayreh D and Zein Khreisat A

A Rangeland and Forestry Research Directorate, National Centre for Agricultural Research and Extension, Al-Baqah 19381, Jordan.

B Department of Agricultural Sciences, Al-Shouback University College, Al-Balqa Applied University, Maan, Jordan.

C Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, School of Agriculture, University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan.

D Water and Ecology Research Directorate, National Centre for Agricultural Research and Extension, Al-Baqah 19381, Jordan.

E Corresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 40(3) 287-296
Submitted: 5 October 2017  Accepted: 29 May 2018   Published: 22 June 2018


Rangelands in Jordan are part of arid areas of the Mediterranean Basin. Stress-tolerant plants such as Atriplex halimus L. have been used to rehabilitate such degraded areas. Seeds of A. halimus were sown in plastic bags in mid-March, mid-August and mid-September of 2012 and placed on the ground in a nursery at Khaldiah Station. Seedlings that were 4, 5 and 10 months old were transplanted on 20 January 2013 to the Khanasri Range Reserve and monitored for their survival over the growing seasons of 2013, 2014 and 2015. At the time of transplanting, the height, weight, stem thickness and root length density of 10-month-old seedlings were greater than of 4- and 5-month-old seedlings. Analyses of leaf tissues indicated high crude protein content in seedlings of different ages (22−26%). The 10-month-old plants showed 15–40-fold higher stem dry weight and more convoluted roots than the 4- and 5-month-old seedlings. The average rate of survival of transplanted seedlings over the three growing seasons was 77.0%, 92.3% and 94.3% for 10-, 5- and 4-month-old seedlings, respectively. Thus, higher growth of the 10-month-old seedlings than of 4- and 5-month-old seedlings at transplanting was compromised by their lower survival percentage throughout the 2013, 2014 and 2015 growing seasons. The dry yield of fodder shrubs was comparable across different-aged seedlings after 2 years of growth in permanent pastures (380, 364 and 354 kg dry yield ha–1 for 10-, 5- and 4-month-old seedlings, respectively). Taken together, these data suggest that 4–5-month-old seedlings of A. halimus are more appropriate for transplanting than 10-month-old seedlings because of cost-effective establishment of seedlings in the nursery, because no significant differences in shrub productivity were observed among plants derived from seedlings of different ages in the permanent rangeland. The impact of the introduced shrubs on different native plants in the range can be addressed in future studies.

Additional keywords: allowable yield, browse weight, canopy, rangeland rehabilitation, root system.



Call of the Reed Warbler. A New Agriculture, A New Earth 

By Charles Massy

University of Queensland Press, 2017, 569 pp.

ISBN: 9780702253416

Reviewed by Jen Silcock