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 38 Number 5 2016

RJ16013Pasture production and composition response after killing Eucalypt trees with herbicides in central Queensland

Trevor J. Hall, Paul Jones, Richard G. Silcock and Piet G. Filet
pp. 427-441

Woodlands are thickening across northern Australia reducing pasture and cattle production. We measured pasture responses after killing trees with herbicide in silver-leaved ironbark and poplar box eucalypt woodlands of central Queensland, in replicated grazing or burning experiments. The major effect of killing the trees was on increasing pasture yield, and increasing the composition of desirable perennial grass species and pasture crown cover, but the rate of pasture response varied markedly between woodland communities.

RJ16009Effects of land-use change and management on soil carbon and nitrogen in the Brigalow Belt, Australia: I. Overview and inventory

D. E. Allen, M. J. Pringle, D. W. Butler, B. K. Henry, T. F. A. Bishop, S. G. Bray, T. G. Orton and R. C. Dalal
pp. 443-452

Soil and its interaction with land use in the Brigalow ecological community of Queensland, Australia, remains a major source of uncertainty for managing native-forest regrowth. Large-scale sampling of soil total organic carbon and total nitrogen revealed a general trend: Remnant > Regrowing native forest ~ pasture derived by forest clearing. However, the large variation observed suggests other specific factors are at play, which may be related to site-specific landscape conditions and management history.

Graziers, scientists, and policy makers need to be aware of how soil carbon and nitrogen are affected by the cycle of tree-clearing, grazing, and natural regeneration of trees. We show here how the burning of native trees reduces stocks of soil carbon and nitrogen. Furthermore, our findings suggest that the coexistence of pasture with naturally regenerating trees cannot restore soil health to its pre-clearing level within 60 years.

RJ16004Arid awakening: new opportunities for Australian plant natural product research

B. S. Simpson, V. Bulone, S. J. Semple, G. W. Booker, R. A. McKinnon and P. Weinstein
pp. 467-478

Seventy per cent of Australia is considered semi-arid or arid, yet we know very little about the chemical and biological properties of the flora contained within these areas. There is an urgent need to develop safer and more effective chemical agents for use in the agriculture, food and medical industries. Investigation of plants exposed to the harsh stress of the Australian arid regions could give rise to useful plant-derived substances for commercial applications.

RJ15127Effects of shed modifications on ewe reproductive performance and lamb growth rate in Inner Mongolia

X. Q. Zhang, D. Kemp, X. Y. Hou, C. M. Langford, K. Wang and W. H. Yan
pp. 479-487

Grazing in winter in Inner Mongolia causes considerable damage to grasslands, as well as weight loss for ewes and lambs. However, winter housing in warm sheds can reduce this problem by reducing cold stress. The present 3-year study showed that keeping ewes and lambs in a modified ‘warm’ shed with no grazing during the winter–spring period increased the reproductive performance and liveweight of ewes, as well as the liveweight of lambs.

The drinking behaviour of captive emus was examined to describe the amount of variability in their water intake. This information will assist in planning dose rates of drugs used to capture wild birds. Individual variability was large among the emus and matched similar variability in the drinking behaviour of other birds.

Lygeum spartum L. (Poaceae) is a perennial grass widespread throughout the West Mediterranean region. In Algeria, it is well known for its use as a natural pasture for domestic livestock under harsh environmental conditions. The objective of this review is to improve the knowledge of this important steppic plant. The state of knowledge of the taxonomy and ecology of L. spartum, as well as its uses in soil rehabilitation and basket manufacture, are discussed from the perspective of its potential applications.

RJ16005Summer drought survival and recovery in Microlaena stipoides

M. L. Mitchell, J. M. Virgona, J. L. Jacobs and D. R. Kemp
pp. 501-510

Microlaena is an important grass in native pastures in southern Australia and can survive and persist in dry periods, particularly during summer. It has the ability to produce new green leaves very quickly when rain falls after dry periods. The ability of microlaena to withstand summer droughts and to recruit from seedlings make it a valuable pasture species across drought-prone environments.

The diversity–stability relationship has been addressed and debated for decades, but how this relationship is affected by nutrient availability remains contentious. In this study we investigated the effects of different levels of diversity on the spatial stability of community net primary productivity following nitrogen and phosphorus application. The relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning was variable depending on the functional groups within the community. In addition, we further explored the mechanism underlying the diversity–stability relationship.

Online Early

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

Published online 30 November 2016

RJ16079Chemical immobilisation and rangeland species: assessment of a helicopter darting method for Australian cattle

Jordan O. Hampton, Anja Skroblin, Tom R. De Ridder and Andrew L. Perry

Chemical immobilisation (darting) is increasingly being used for the management of rangeland animals but it has not been widely applied to free-ranging cattle. In this study we assessed the animal welfare impacts of a newly developed helicopter-based immobilisation technique for free-ranging Australian rangeland cattle (Bos taurus and Bos indicus). Eighteen cattle were captured but quantified animal welfare parameters were sub-optimal, emphasising the challenges associated with the use of helicopters and immobilising food-producing species. We encourage rangeland managers to carefully consider animal welfare impacts before undertaking chemical immobilisation programs.

Increasingly widespread provision of stock water is seen as a threat to Australian rangeland vegetation, but attempts to demonstrate that vegetation composition is better at sites more distant from water have been largely unsuccessful. One likely reason is that most studies have been conducted within the geographic range of rabbits but without accounting for rabbits’ impact. Successful strategies to define the problem and to conserve vegetation in southern Australian rangelands will need to address the impact of rabbits and large water-dependent herbivores simultaneously.

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