Cattle grazing may help rather than hurt endangered species

October 12, 2005

An article published in the latest issue of Conservation Biology finds that cattle grazing plays an important role in maintaining wetland habitat necessary for some endangered species. Removing cattle from grazing lands in the Central Valley of California could, inadvertently, degrade the vernal pool habitat of fairy shrimp and tiger salamanders. Cattle grazing influences the rates of evaporation which work together with climate to determine the depth and duration of wetland flooding. Cattle have been grazing in the land for roughly 150 years and have become a naturalized part of the ecosystem. "In practical terms, this means that grazing may help sustain the kinds of aquatic environments endangered fairy shrimps need to survive," author Christopher R. Pyke states.

The authors looked at 36 vernal pools on two different geologic formations on a 5000-ha ranch in eastern Sacramento County, California. Their experiments found that removal of grazing reduced the duration of wetland flooding by an average of 50 days per year. Their simulations show that climate change could compound these impacts, potentially, leaving endangered fairy shrimp and tiger salamanders without enough time to mature before their temporary aquatic environments disappear. "Consequently, land managers can play an important role in climate change impacts, i.e. they can exacerbate or ameliorate, the local impacts of global change." Pyke adds. Conservationists may find that grazing is not always a negative factor, and it presents real opportunities to adapt to climate variability and climate change.
-end-
This study is published in the October issue of Conservation Biology. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article please contact journalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net

Conservation Biology is a top-ranked journal in the fields of Ecology and Environmental Science and has been called, "required reading for ecologists throughout the world." It is published on behalf of the Society for Conservation Biology.

Christopher R. Pyke conducted the work while he was a David H. Smith fellow at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. He now works with the U.S. EPA's Global Change Research Program. He has a long standing interest in developing practical climate adaptation strategies. Dr. Pyke is available for media questions.

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Related Climate Change Articles from Brightsurf:

Are climate scientists being too cautious when linking extreme weather to climate change?
Climate science has focused on avoiding false alarms when linking extreme events to climate change.

Mysterious climate change
New research findings underline the crucial role that sea ice throughout the Southern Ocean played for atmospheric CO2 in times of rapid climate change in the past.

Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.

Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.

Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.

Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.

A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.

Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).

Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.

Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.

Read More: Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.