Impact of Livestock Grazing on Grassland Herpetofauna
Grasslands cover approximately one third of the Earth’s surface but are among the most threatened and least protected habitats. Livestock grazing is one management strategy to restore degraded grassland ecosystems, but little is known about the effect of grazing on grassland reptiles and amphibians (herpetofauna). World-wide, herpetofauna are in decline and may be particularly susceptible to impacts from grazing. The goal of this project is to understand how grazing in mixed-grass prairies affects grassland herpetofauna species-at-risk using coverboard arrays to locate herpetofauna and quadrat surveys to characterize plant diversity. We will determine: 1) how grazing affects biotic (plant and herpetofauna species) and abiotic (thermal and moisture) environments, and 2) how biotic and abiotic environments change on a gradient from forest edge to the center of a mixed-grass prairie. Understanding the potential impacts of grazing will assist Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC) in management of mixed-grass prairie habitat throughout western Canada.