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Plant phenology—timing of seasonal life cycle events—is a primary control on ecosystem productivity.
Phenology data can be used to design better management systems by adjusting the timing of grazing or managed burns relative to growth stages of key species and planning restoration activities, such as targeted grazing.
Tower-mounted digital cameras (phenocams) provide a cost-effective way to collect data to capture phenology metrics for vegetation greenness.
Phenocam greenness values can provide canopy-level metrics in real time for a fraction of the cost of field observations and link field and satellite observations to reveal species contributions to greenness.
Trophic cascades occur when flora and fauna directly and/or indirectly influence co-occurring species populations at different levels of the food chain, and North American temperate grasslands provide an interesting case study to research these relationships.
We briefly define trophic cascades in terrestrial systems and explore the potential for a cascading trophic interaction among grassland-associated swift fox (Vulpes velox), western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea), and mountain plover (Charadrius montanus), three rangeland species of conservation concern, on black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) colonies using two US Forest Service data sets.
Historic patterns of occurrence and co-occurrence suggest top-down control governs the spatiotemporal distribution patterns of the three species and may be influenced by habitat fragmentation and management actions.
Managing for interactive, multitrophic communities requires the identification of species interactions and the mechanisms that drive them.
Long-term multispecies occupancy research, combined with hypothesized driving mechanisms and the co-occurrence of associated grassland species, is recommended for addressing these complex interactions moving forward.
Browse estimates in this study were made using a random sampling strategy to monitor riparian shrub communities using presence or absence to determine the percent of shrub occupancy and intensity of browsing.
This height-based shrub monitoring takes the guesswork out of complex browse estimates.
The strategic timing of monitoring periods facilitates separation of wildlife and livestock browsing impacts.
Height-based shrub monitoring was an efficient and repeatable method for tracking shrub occupancy, maturity, and shrub form.