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One-Seed Juniper Sapling Use by Goats in Relation to Stocking Density and Mixed Grazing With Sheep
- Utsumi, Santiago A., Cibils, Andres F., Estell, Richard E., Baker, Terrell T., Walker, John W.
- Rangeland ecology & management 2010 v.63 no.3 pp. 373
- Juniperus monosperma, bark, branches, defoliation, ewes, feces, feeding behavior, forage, goats, leaves, mixed grazing, mortality, plant growth, saplings, spring, stocking rate, summer, vegetation
- Suppression of one-seed juniper (Juniper monosperma [[Englem.]] Sarg.) reinvasion with goats requires achieving levels of defoliation of newly established saplings that eventually kill or suppress plant growth. We tested the effects of stocking density and mixed grazing with sheep on the level of use of one-seed juniper saplings by goats. In summer and spring, groups of 10 does (goats alone, GA) or 5 does and 4 ewes (mixed grazing, MG), grazed 20 ×× 30 m cells infested with saplings (500––533 ·· ha⁻⁻¹; mean: 0.8 m tall), either continuously for 6 d (low stocking density, LD) or with daily rotation through 10 ×× 10 m cells during the 6-d period (high stocking density, HD) in a block design. Feeding activity; juniper in feces; utilization of herbaceous vegetation; frequency of saplings with light, moderate, and heavy foliage and bark use; and branch utilization were determined. Goats in HD spent more time feeding on saplings, less time feeding on herbaceous forages, and tended to consume more juniper than goats in LD. Utilization of herbaceous vegetation ranged from 52%% to 73%% and was higher for MG than GA and for LD than HD. The MG––HD treatment resulted in the highest frequency of short saplings (< 0.5 m) with heavy defoliation in summer and spring, and lowest frequency of saplings with light debarking in spring. Heavy defoliation was more frequent in short saplings, whereas heavy debarking was more frequent in tall (> 1 m) saplings. Sapling mortality was not affected by treatments (P > 0.05) and averaged 5%% across treatments. Branch debarking was greater in spring (P == 0.02) and explained approximately 80%% of branch mortality and 62%% and 52%% of the reduction in sapling live crown height and volume. Branch utilization (percent length) was not affected by grazing treatments (range: 45––48%%), but was influenced by the length and diameter of branches. This study suggests that high stocking density and mixed grazing stimulate feeding behaviors that increase utilization of juniper saplings by goats. Susceptibility of saplings to defoliation and debarking varies with sapling size, branch structure, and season. Targeted grazing in spring appears to have a greater impact on sapling suppression and branch mortality due to higher debarking frequency.