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We developed a unique set of landscape projections for the Great Plains that use real land-management parcels to represent landscape patterns at high spatial and thematic resolution.
Both anthropogenic land use and natural vegetation respond in the model to projected changes in groundwater availability and climate change.
Thirty-three scenario combinations were modeled, facilitating landscape planning and mitigation efforts under a range of possible landscape futures.
Change in rangeland from 2014 to 2100 varied from an increase of 4.3% for the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) B2 scenario, to a decline of 23.6% for the SRES A1B scenario.
The spatially and thematically detailed projections are designed for the assessment of landscape interactions with water flow and water quality, species distribution and abundance modeling, greenhouse gas assessments, and other ecosystem services.
Wyoming big sagebrush is a dominant shrub species on millions of acres of rangelands throughout the Intermountain West and plays a critical role in the health and diversity of many wildlife species.
Restoration practices to re-establish Wyoming big sagebrush on degraded habitats have largely been met with submarginal success, yet the need to restore or rehabilitate Wyoming big sagebrush has become increasingly important due to extensive losses of big sagebrush habitats, fragmentation, and sensitive sagebrush obligate species.
Lack of success from seeding rangelands either by ground application or aerially has prompted some resource managers to look more closely at transplantng methodologies. Transplanting of Wyoming big sagebrush is largely done using cone-size containers or bare-stock plants and is recommended to be conducted in spring. This study was initiated in 2012 to test fall versus spring transplanting.
Fall transplanting success averaged 65% with a range of 41% to 82%, while spring transplant success averaged 41% with a range of 13% to 65%.
The cold desert of the Great Basin receives the majority of its precipitation during winter months, therefore providing a more reliable source of available precipitation for newly transplanted Wyoming big sagebrush seedlings. A significant part of increasing big sagebrush transplanting success is the combination of increased container size and moving the timing of transplanting from spring to fall due to an increase in favorable and reliable precipitation.
Livestock-predator interactions structure ranchers' perceptions of predators.
We surveyed 274 ranchers in Wyoming using open-answer questions about contemporary livestock-predator themes.
Four themes emerged: 1) difficulty mitigating losses from protected large carnivores; 2) escalating impacts of predatory birds on livestock and wildlife; 3) sustainability of predator management funding; and 4) continual bureaucratic complexities of predator management.
Themes had an underlying thread regarding the tension between state control versus federal control including concern about growing predator populations that may affect both livestock and native wildlife such as greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus).
When Yellowstone National Park (YNP) was established in 1872, American bison (Bison bison) were living in the park's forests and mountains.
A study conducted in the 1960s concluded that those were Mountain bison (Bison bison athabascae), a subspecies adapted to mountain habitat. It was assumed that those historical bison occupied their native habitat and had done so in prehistoric times.
When archaeological evidence of YNP bison was discovered in the mid-1990s it seemed reasonable to assume that those bones were derived from a herd of native prehistoric bison.
However, a review of archaeological, historical, genetic, and ecological evidence suggests a different history. Namely, herds of bison were absent before 1840. Sometime between 1840 and the mid-1850s, plains bison were driven into the mountain forest in and near YNP. In those forests, bison were relatively safe from horse-mounted, bow-and-arrow-armed Native American hunters.
Archaeological evidence suggests that YNPs prehistoric bison were bulls that left herds on the low-elevation plains that surround the park; the bulls would have traveled up mountain drainages to the Yellowstone volcanic plateau.
Bison played no significant role in the ecological processes that shaped YNPs prehistoric landscape. YNPs modern bison herd is causing significant changes in range condition.