The Rangeland Journal The Rangeland Journal Society
Rangeland ecology and management

The Rangeland Journal

The Rangeland Journal

The Rangeland Journal publishes original work on the biophysical, social, cultural, economic, and policy influences affecting rangeland use and management. Read more about the journalMore

Editor-in-Chief: Paul Novelly

Current Issue

The Rangeland Journal

Volume 39 Number 4 2017

Cascabela thevetia (Captain Cook tree; yellow oleander) has become an invasive weed in northern Australia. Seven experiments related to seed germination and longevity of its yellow and peach biotypes were undertaken. Both biotypes germinated across a wide range of temperature regimes and under both natural light and shade conditions. With seeds appearing to remain viable for only 2 years in the field, this weed is manageable provided annual control activities are undertaken to help prevent replenishment of soil seed banks.

RJ16070Patterns of herders’ adaptation to changes in social–ecological systems across northern China’s grasslands over the past three decades

Xiliang Li, Yong Ding, Yanting Yin, Tingting Yang, Zhiying Liu, Weibo Ren, JiangLi Zhang, Sarula, Yuanheng Li and Xiangyang Hou
pp. 317-328

Local strategies are key to adapting to the global environmental change in semiarid regions. This paper found the transformation of herders’ behavioural strategies resulted from variations in spatial and temporal patterns of climate change, pasture degradation, new policies and marketisation in pastoral areas in Inner Mongolia, China. Herders’ adaptation is the basic of the adaptive management in grassland regions under future challenges of global change.

Overgrazing and associated grassland degradation linked to rising human and animal populations and a move from transhumance grazing systems to fixed family land allocations is an emerging problem on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP). Geographic movement of animals onto the QTP for growing season grazing (June–September) may be an alternative grazing system for this region. This study reports weight gains of hoggets grazing alpine meadow pasture in such a system under three different grazing regimes in the growing season and early cold season (September–December).

Ten years after restoration via mechanical intervention and direct seeding, severely degraded (scalded) areas continue to support patchy recruitment of Maireana pyramidata over A. vesicaria low shrubland. This investigation detected improved cover and abundance of perennial direct seeded and wild-sourced species in the furrow. Depending on the species, the furrow supported increased germination of seedlings, or survival of mature and/or reproductive plants. By identifying species likely to benefit from the altered microtopography of the soil we can maximise our investment in future restoration programs.

RJ17029Topsoil removal and carbon addition for weed control and native grass recruitment in a temperate-derived grassland in northern New South Wales

Sharon L. Brown, Nick Reid, Jackie Reid, Rhiannon Smith, R. D. B. (Wal) Whalley and David Carr
pp. 355-361

Restoring native grassland ecosystems is challenging in the presence of fast-growing weeds, which compete for nutrients, water and sunlight. Effective weed control that removes aboveground weed biomass while mitigating the deleterious effects of soil enrichment has been trialled in southern Australia, but not in northern New South Wales. Our results show that scalping enhances native grass recruitment, and combinations of sugar and sawdust with glyphosate effectively control weeds. These techniques have the potential to improve grassland restoration in this region.

Land degradation affects 25% of the vegetated area in the world and overgrazing is a common cause of it, particularly in Northern Mexico. We found that overgrazing by goats caused severe problems related to disturbed soil hydrological patterns and loss of species diversity, whose severity depended on soil types. The observed degradation reflects an unsustainable rangeland management practice that should be avoided to seek soil conservation and ecosystem protection.

RJ17079Impacts of horse grazing on botanical composition and diversity in different types of heathland

Carlos López López, Rocío Rosa García, Luis M. M. Ferreira, Urcesino García, Koldo Osoro and Rafael Celaya
pp. 375-385

Despite the increasing number of horses grazing in northern Spanish mountains, little is known about their effects on predominant plant communities such as heathlands. We studied vegetation dynamics under horse grazing at three different heathland types during three years, and found that gorse dominance was reduced whereas the cover of typical heather species and some herbaceous plants increased. Floristic diversity increased compared with non-grazed heathlands, so horse grazing could be beneficial for the restoration of these rangelands.

Assessing impact of climate change on vegetation types and net primary productivity (NPP) can reveal how climate influences vegetation distribution and NPP over time and space. Substantial shifts in vegetation classes in Australia were projected and NPP was projected to increase in central and northern Australia and to decrease in southern and eastern coastal areas in 2050. Projected decrease for vegetation classes with more intense land use may have significant impact on grazing industry and biodiversity conservation.

Online Early

The peer-reviewed and edited version of record published online before inclusion in an issue

Published online 19 January 2018

RJ17073Managing invasive plants on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island

Brian M. Sindel, Paul E. Kristiansen, Susan C. Wilson, Justine D. Shaw and Laura K. Williams

Australia’s most southerly rangeland, sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island, is among the last true wilderness areas on the planet and home to unique ecosystems and abundant wildlife. Research in such a remote, cold, wet and windy place is fraught with difficulties. Despite the research challenges we are discovering why weeds have survived so well in this harsh environment. Our results will be used to develop effective, low-impact control or eradication options for sub-Antarctic weeds to complement eradication programs for pest herbivores.

Published online 12 January 2018

RJ17089Response of leaf traits of common plants in alpine meadow to plateau pika disturbance

Xiao Pan Pang and Zheng Gang Guo

Plateau pikas create disturbances in the plants of alpine meadow. This study investigated the response of leaf traits to plateau pika disturbances and found that the disturbance intensities of plateau pika alter the leaf traits of three plants; these three plants exhibited different adaptations to the different disturbance intensities of plateau pika, which enabled the alpine meadow to improve or degrade.

Published online 12 January 2018

RJ16097Temporal and spatial heterogeneity of drought impact on vegetation growth on the Inner Mongolian Plateau

Miao Bailing, Li Zhiyong, Liang Cunzhu, Wang Lixin, Jia Chengzhen, Bao Fuxiang and Jiang Chao

Drought frequency and intensity have increased substantially on the Inner Mongolian Plateau, but the extent and timing of drought impacts on different vegetation types have not been clear. Our results show that drought reduced vegetation growth to the greatest extent in typical steppe and desert steppe and in summer, highlighting increased drought as a crucial factor driving changes in vegetation productivity.

Published online 12 January 2018

RJ16084A comprehensive appraisal of four kinds of forage under irrigation in Xilingol, Inner Mongolia, China

Yulong Yan, Zhiqiang Wan, Ran Chao, Yiqing Ge, Yali Chen, Rui Gu, Qingzhu Gao and Jie Yang

The effects of irrigation on three varieties of lucerne (alfalfa) and a forage grass were studied in a field experiment in Inner Mongolia. Irrigation significantly increased forage quality in the lucerne varieties and substantially increased expected profits. Irrigation was less profitable for the grass.

Published online 09 January 2018

RJ17071An ecosystem services filter for rangeland restoration

Joel R. Brown and Neil D. MacLeod

Rangeland restoration ecology has successfully focused on technical tools to alter ecological processes, particularly plant species composition. Although productive, this approach lacks urgency in elevating rangeland-based projects within the larger public interest. In this paper, we suggest that an increased emphasis on the alterations of ecosystems services as a result of restoration efforts could improve the relevance and success of proposed projects.

Published online 09 January 2018

RJ17105Using behavioural science to improve Australia’s environmental regulation

Paul Martin and Donald W. Hine

Rural law is often not sufficiently effective in changing behaviour, and too costly. Using modern behavioural science such as precise targeting of messages and interventions can help to overcome both these problems. This study shows that contemporary methods can identify discrete land-user segments with unique psychographic profiles, and argues that the effectivenesss of weed management regulations and other behaviour change interventions can be improved by targeting each segment.

Published online 12 December 2017

RJ17033Estimation of aboveground herbaceous biomass using visually ranked digital photographs

Helen R. Morgan, Nick Reid and John T. Hunter

Estimation of herbaceous biomass is important in range management, ecological monitoring and restoration. Traditional methods involve repetitive vegetation clipping in the field so we developed a more efficient, less destructive method. The photographic estimation technique is reliable, uses basic equipment and can be implemented by practitioners for accurately measuring herbaceous biomass.

Published online 12 December 2017

RJ16074Responses of aboveground biomass and soil organic carbon to projected future climate change in Inner Mongolian grasslands

Qiuyue Li, Xuebiao Pan, Lizhen Zhang, Chao Li, Ning Yang, Shuo Han and Caihua Ye

Models can help decision makers to understand the potential impact of climate change. After finding that the CENTURY model simulated biomass and soil organic carbon in ungrazed Inner Mongolian grasslands with acceptable agreement, we used it to simulate these parameters under two climate-change scenarios: one intermediate and one substantial. Our findings that biomass increased on average in both scenarios while soil organic carbon decreased on average suggest opportunities for balancing sustainable land use and economic development.

Published online 08 December 2017

RJ17055Native seed for restoration: a discussion of key issues using examples from the flora of southern Australia

Linda Broadhurst, Cathy Waters and David Coates

Native seed is often assumed to be plentiful and available for most species, when in reality seasonal variability influences which species will set seed and the volume being produced. Small and isolated plant populations are also more likely to produce poor quality seed if inbreeding is high and other factors associated with vegetation fragmentation such as habitat degradation are present. Overcoming these limitations will improve seed-based restoration activities by increasing the diversity of species being planted and the area that can be planted.

Published online 28 November 2017

RJ17046Invasive species and their impacts on agri-ecosystems: issues and solutions for restoring ecosystem processes

Peter J. S. Fleming, Guy Ballard, Nick C. H. Reid and John P. Tracey

Weeds and pest animals impact negatively on many agricultural and natural Australasian ecosystems. After reviewing theoretical perspectives of invasive species science and management, and discussing what makes a successful biological invader, some conceptual undercurrents are addressed before restoration can be considered. Finally, a practical working framework for managing invasive species for restoring invaded ecosystems is outlined.

Published online 24 October 2017

RJ16073Influence of climatic factors on variation in the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index in Mongolian Plateau grasslands

Xu-Juan Cao, Qing-Zhu Gao, Ganjurjav Hasbagan, Yan Liang, Wen-Han Li and Guo-Zheng Hu

NDVI in Inner Mongolia and Mongolia grasslands showed similar temporal trends from 1981 to 2013 being positive to 1994, then negative to 2007. Climate factors showed substantial spatial variability and moisture was confirmed as the most important limiting factor on NDVI. Climate change, projected to involve temperature increases with little or no change in precipitation and ongoing spatial and temporal variability, can be expected to drive decreases in grassland productivity.

The unique and diverse Australian flora and fauna is mirrored in the varied pollination systems that drive and support this diversity. Successful restoration of degraded landscapes may often depend on providing habitat for pollinators and the re-installation of an array of plant species that provide a staggered supply of flowers to support the pollinators. Caroline Gross explores the re-establishment of pollination services in degraded landscapes with suggestions of how to build resilience into restored ecosystems.

Published online 18 October 2017

RJ17069Nature conservation and ecological restoration in a changing climate: what are we aiming for?

Suzanne M. Prober, Kristen J. Williams, Linda M. Broadhurst and Veronica A. J. Doerr

To address the challenge of establishing new nature conservation goals under climate change, we established a framework of human motivations implicit in historically focussed conservation approaches, and drew on this to propose five guiding principles. These include optimising ecosystem functions and processes, maintaining evolutionary potential, minimising species losses, maintaining evolutionary character, and maintaining wild natural systems. We argue that by connecting with underlying motivations for conservation, these principles will help us move towards more effective nature conservation in a rapidly changing world.

Restoration efforts in the United States are becoming more numerous, comprehensive, and diverse. Riparian, rangeland, wetland, estuarine, watershed, prairie, and forest examples demonstrate how a diversity of ecosystems have sustained extensive modification through inadvertent and intentional anthropogenic change. Restoration efforts have had varying degrees of success, entail many different approaches, and demonstrate that much can be learned from both restoration successes and failures.

Published online 30 August 2017

RJ17024Ecosystem restoration: recent advances in theory and practice

T. A. Jones

Ecosystem disturbance will be inevitably exacerbated as human populations rise, thus restoration efforts must become more effective in sustaining healthy ecosystems worldwide. Ecological restoration is still a young field, but a greater variety of options is being considered than in the past as more intractable environmental problems are being addressed. An improved understanding of plant traits, function, and adaptation; secondary succession; soil ecology; and plant evolution and provenance is contributing to more effective restoration practices.

In a rapidly changing world, it is important to ensure that restoration science and practice delivers outcomes that are both achievable and effective. Flexible goals are required to fit with different motivations and levels of resourcing. This requires open discussion of the potential and limitations of restoration across a wide range of situations.

Published online 22 August 2017

RJ17056Reflections on four decades of land restoration in Australia

Andrew Campbell, Jason Alexandra and David Curtis

The past four decades have seen the gradual incorporation of conservation practices such as ecological restoration, revegetation and agroforestry in Australian farming systems as a response to land degradation. While actions have been impressive they remain fragmented, are confined to particular districts or properties and run the risk of not being built upon in the future. This paper traces the history of this movement, and draws out lessons and implications for future policy development and research.

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