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The Rangeland Journal Abstracts

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The following abstracts are from the latest issues of The Rangeland Journal.

The Rangeland Journal Vol. 42 (6) February 2021


Livestock indirectly decrease nest abundance of two shrub-nesting species in Patagonian Monte Desert

Mariana Tadey

– Author Affiliations

Lab. Ecotono, CONICET-INIBIOMA, Pasaje Gutiérrez 1125 S. C. Bariloche. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 42(6) 375–385
Submitted: 17 August 2019   Accepted: 19 December 2020   Published: 11 February 2021


Domestic livestock may indirectly affect bird species through changes in vegetation structure (e.g. cover), reducing the availability of food, nesting sites, refugia and, therefore, reproduction in many ecosystems worldwide. However, it remains unclear how the effect of livestock on vegetation structure can influence insectivorous birds that use shrubs for nest construction and placement rather than for feeding. Several species from the Furnariidae family inhabit Monte Desert, Argentina, exhibiting an extraordinary diversity in nest placement and structure that allows them to survive habitat aridity. Nest abundance and size of two common furnariid species, Pseudoseisura gutturalis and Leptasthenura aegithaloides, were studied across a cumulative livestock impact gradient (livestock impact by years grazed). These species use large, closed-nests (~40 cm and ~100 cm length, respectively) built with thorny branches placed on thorny shrubs. The study encompassed nine independent rangelands within the same habitat but with increasing livestock density, establishing a gradient in grazing intensity. In each rangeland, nest abundance, nest and supporting plant characteristics, vegetation structure and the percentage of browsing were assessed. Cover was lower in rangelands with higher livestock impact, and this was associated with lower nest abundance and nest size. Nest abundance of L. aegithaloides was halved, whereas P. gutturalis was decreased 10-fold comparing the extremes of the livestock impact gradient (0.06 vs 1.63 cattle ha–1 × years). Nest size tended to be smaller and more spherical with increasing livestock impact. The significant and positive association between nest abundance and vegetation structure together with the importance of mating and reproduction for bird lifecycles suggests that the nest abundance of these species could be used as an indicator of habitat degradation. Therefore, furnariid nest abundance could be used as a first step for diagnosing ecosystem health and designing ecologically sustainable management practices in Monte Desert. Changes in vegetation structure (e.g. cover) such as those imposed by livestock may unpredictably affect plant-associated species affecting their reproduction, demography and ecosystem biodiversity.


bird nesting ecology, desert, Furnariidae, plant-animal interaction, vegetation cover.

Designing a payment for ecosystem services scheme, the practical obstacles for implementation in arid and semiarid rangelands

Emad ZakeriA, Seyed Alireza MousaviA,B and Hamidreza KarimzadehA

– Author Affiliations

ADepartment of Natural Resources, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan, Iran.

BCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 42(6) 387–400
Submitted: 24 September 2019  Accepted: 30 October 2020  Published: 22 December 2020


Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) schemes are an innovative solution to reduce environmental degradation. However, most existing experience with PES implementation is related to the agricultural, forestry and marine sectors, and the application of PES in rangelands is limited. Although a PES could be an option to reduce rangeland degradation, there is no specific framework or experience for its implementation in Iran. Financial resources for funding the scheme are important, however, funding by itself is not sufficient and details are important in designing a successful PES system. This study aimed to design and introduce a framework of a PES scheme based on field surveys, information collection and analysis emphasising soil and water conservation functions and identification and discussion of the challenges and obstacles facing implementation of the designed framework. After delineating the vegetation types on rangeland ecosystems, current ecological condition of these types was considered the baseline, and minimum and maximum payments considered equal to the livestock reduction compensation and the total value of the increased ecosystem services as a result of PES implementation respectively. Results suggest designing the practical steps of PES schemes is complicated despite the concept’s simplicity. A lack of clear property rights can increase complexity and multiply the costs. Considering different socioeconomic and ecological contexts, and the detailed framework in all processes of identification and investigation, development, pilot testing, and project operation can increase PES scheme effectiveness. Our findings appear useful for policy-making to balance utilisation pressure in natural areas, not only in Iran, but also in many arid and semiarid rangelands elsewhere.


environmental degradation, incentive-based mechanisms, operationalising payments for ecosystem services, pastoralists, policy design, Iran.

Missing shots: has the possibility of shooting wolves been lacking for 20 years in France’s livestock protection measures?

  1. MeuretA, C.-H. MoulinB, O. BonnetC, L. GardeC, M.-O. Nozières-PetitA and N. LescureuxD,E

– Author Affiliations

AUniversity Montpellier, INRAE, SELMET, 34000, Montpellier, France.

BUniversity Montpellier, L’Institut Agro Montpellier SupAgro, SELMET, 34000, Montpellier, France.

CCERPAM, 04100, Manosque, France.

DCEFE, CNRS, Univ. Montpellier, EPHE, IRD, Univ. Paul Valéry Montpellier 3, 34000, Montpellier, France.

ECorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 42(6) 401–413
Submitted: 27 May 2020   Accepted: 6 November 2020   Published: 20 January 2021


Wolves were exterminated in France in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Therefore, livestock breeders and herders were unprepared when wolves arrived from Italy in 1993, the year after France committed to the European Union (EU) to protect wolves. Today, ~580 wolves, whose numbers are growing exponentially, are present in over onethird of France. During the last 10 years, livestock deaths from wolves have grown linearly from 3215 in 2009 to 12 451 in 2019, despite France implementing extensive damage protection measures since 2004, including reinforced human presence, livestock guard dogs, secured pasture fencing and electrified night pens. The failure to prevent damage is clear. Wolves enter mosaic landscapes where grazing livestock are abundant and easy prey. Wolves are intelligent and opportunistic. As a strictly protected species, it seems they no longer associate livestock with humans and humans with

danger. Half of the successful attacks now occur during the day, notwithstanding the presence of dogs and humans. Considering the high costs of unsatisfactory protection, France recently modified its wolf management policy. In addition to non-lethal means of protection, breeders that have suffered several attacks by wolves are now permitted, by derogation to the law, to defensively shoot wolves. Based upon evidence from other countries, we suggest re-establishing a reciprocal relationship with wolves. Breeders and herders should be allowed to shoot wolves to defend their herds against wolf attacks, not after several successful predation events. Defence shooting would also upgrade the efficiency of non-lethal means, as warning signals for wolves to respect. Rather than passive coexistence, we need to embrace a dynamic and everevolving process of coadaptation between humans and wolves, relying on the adaptive capacities of both.


adaptive management, damage prevention, defensive shooting, grey wolf, livestock, non-lethal, predation, public policies, wolf.

The application of near infrared spectroscopy to predict faecal nitrogen and phosphorus in multiple ruminant herbivore species

  1. R. TollesonA,D and J. P. AngererB,C

– Author Affiliations

ATexas A&M AgriLife Research, Sonora Research Station, Sonora, TX 76950, USA.

BTexas A&M AgriLife Research, Blackland Research and Extension Center, Temple, TX 76502, USA.

CPresent address: United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service (USDA–ARS) Livestock and Range Research Laboratory, Miles City, MT 59301, USA.

DCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 42(6) 415–423
Submitted: 17 July 2020  Accepted: 7 December 2020  Published: 29 January 2021


Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) was applied to determine faecal nitrogen and phosphorus using a temporo-spatially diverse dataset derived from multiple ruminant herbivore species (i.e. cattle, bison, deer, elk, goats, and sheep). Single-species NIRS calibrations have previously been developed to predict faecal constituents. Multi-species NIRS calibrations have previously been developed for herbivore faecal nitrogen but not for faecal phosphorus. Faecal samples representing a herd or flock composite were analysed via NIRS (400–2498 nm). Calibration sets for faecal nitrogen and phosphorus were developed from: (1) all samples from all six species, (2) all cattle samples only, (3) all samples except those from bison, (4) all samples except those from deer, (5) all samples except those from elk, (6) all samples except those from goats, and (7) all samples except those from sheep. Validation sample sets included: (1) each of the individual species (predicted with a cattle only-derived calibration), and (2) each of the individual species (other than cattle) predicted with a multi-species calibration constructed from all cattle samples plus those samples from the remaining four species(i.e. ‘leave-one-out’) All multiple coefficient of determination (R2) values for faecal nitrogen calibrations were ≥0.97. Corresponding standard error of cross validation (SECV) values were ≤0.13. Validation simple coefficient of determination (r2) and standard error of prediction (SEP) of each alternate species using the cattle-derived calibration ranged from 0.76 to 0.84, and 0.28 to 0.5 respectively. Similar values for the sequential species leave-one-out validation for faecal nitrogen were 0.67 to 0.89, and 0.17 to 0.47 respectively. All R2 values for faecal phosphorus calibrations were ≥0.79; corresponding SECV were ≤0.14. Validation r2 and SEP of each alternate species using the cattle-derived phosphorus calibration were ≤0.63 and ≥0.13 respectively. Similar values for the sequential species leave-one-out validation were ≤0.66 and ≥0.22 respectively for faecal phosphorus. Multi-species faecal NIRS calibrations can be developed for monitoring applications in which determination of faecal nitrogen is appropriate, e.g. free-ranging herbivore nutrition, nitrogen deposition from animal faeces on rangelands with declining forage quality, or runoff from confined animal feeding operations. Similar calibrations for faecal phosphorus require additional research to ascertain their applicability.


environmental pollution, faecal nutrients, faeces, herbivores, monitoring, near infrared spectroscopy, NIRS, nitrogen, nutritional status, phosphorus.

Grazing gradient detection and assessment in arid rangelands of central Iran using remote sensing and soil-vegetation characteristics

  1. MoazamA, R. JafariA,C, H. BashariA and M. R. MosaddeghiB

– Author Affiliations

ADepartment of Natural Resources, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan, Iran.

BDepartment of Soil Science, College of Agriculture, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan.

CCorresponding author:

The Rangeland Journal 42(6) 425–433
Submitted: 1 August 2020  Accepted: 3 November 2020  Published: 23 December 2020


One key tool to manage fragile ecosystems in arid lands is knowledge of land degradation. For this purpose, field-based soil and vegetation characteristics were related to remote sensing information extracted from Landsat OLI moving standard deviation index (MSDI), normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI), soil-adjusted vegetation index (SAVI) and modified soil-adjusted vegetation index (MSAVI) in degraded (watering points and livestock camps) and reference sites of arid rangelands of Iran. Values of spectral indices along grazing gradients at a distance of 50–1500 m from the centre of degradation were also extracted and analysed. Statistical analysis (t-test and ordination analysis) shows that MSDI is a sensitive index of landscape heterogeneity and, unlike other indices, exhibits a significant difference between degraded and reference sites. MSDI was sensitive to grazing gradients around watering points and livestock camps, and declined with increasing distance from these areas, although this varied between different sites due to grazing intensity and characteristics of soil and vegetation cover. Soil analysis showed that the amount of organic carbon, mean weight diameter (MWD), geometric mean diameter (GMD) and soil stability indicator (SSI) at reference sites were significantly higher than those at degraded areas. Ordination analysis confirmed the results of t-test regarding the high potential capability of MSDI in separating degraded areas. This simple and practical index can be used to determine ecological thresholds and investigating rangeland condition in arid ecosystems.


arid ecosystem, landscape function analysis, overgrazing, rangeland degradation, satellite, soil indices, spectral diversity, vegetation indices.

Refining China’s grassland policies: an interdisciplinary and ex-ante analysis

Colin BrownA,I, Karl BehrendtB,C, Li PingD, Qiao GuanghuaE, Jeff BennettF, Zhang BaoE, Jane AddisonG, David KempC, Han GuodongH and Zhang JingA

– Author Affiliations

ASchool of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.

BLand, Farm and Agri-Business Management Department, Harper Adams University, United Kingdom.

CGraham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University, Orange, NSW 2650, Australia.

DInstitute of Grassland Research, Chinese Academy of Grassland Science, Hohhot 010010, PR China.

ECollege of Economics and Management, Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, Hohhot 010000, PR China.

FCrawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

GCSIRO Land and Water, ATSIP, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld 4811, Australia.

HCollege of Grassland, Resources and Environment, Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, Hohhot 010000, PR China.

ICorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 42(6) 435–445
Submitted: 2 October 2020  Accepted: 21 December 2020  Published: 8 February 2021


China is about to embark on a new round of grassland policies as part of its 14th Five-Year-Plan. Although current grassland policies have generally been perceived positively in arresting widespread grassland degradation, concerns have arisen that the current policies may not be effective in achieving the desired reduction in livestock numbers. Furthermore, there are concerns the incentive-based payments that are part of these policy programs may not reflect herder opportunity costs or the marginal environmental benefits of the program, with associated issues of herder satisfaction and compliance. Changes to current policy settings are being considered in response to these concerns. This paper reports on an interdisciplinary and ex-ante analysis of alternative policy settings affecting grazing and livestock management in terms of their environmental impacts, net social benefits and other impacts. The analysis finds that a bundle of instruments involving both positive and negative herder incentives is needed if desired stocking rates are to be achieved. The impact on herder incomes, both positive and negative depending on the grassland biome, along with transaction costs of implementing the policies, have the most influence on net social benefits.


China, grasslands, incentives, policy, stocking rates.

Can extension programs improve grazing management in rangelands: a case study in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef catchments

John RolfeA,C, Megan StarA and Adam CurcioB

– Author Affiliations

ASchool of Business and Law, CQUniversity, Qld, Australia.

BResouce Consulting Services, 44 Arthur St, Yeppoon, Qld, Australia.

CCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 42(6) 447–459
Submitted: 9 October 2020  Accepted: 19 January 2021  Published: 11 February 2021


A key challenge in reducing sediment moving from grazing lands into the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is to encourage beef cattle producers to improve management practices. Excessive grazing pressures cause land degradation, leading to both increased sediment runoff and lower future profits. Although higher grazing rates may be possible (and profitable) in better seasons, slow rates of adjustment to poorer seasons can lead to overgrazing and negative impacts on land condition. For policymakers the challenge is to find mechanisms that encourage or signal producers to be more precise in their management and avoid overstocking. Some of the most common options include extension programs, grant programs that use financial incentives, and regulation.

In this paper we outline a conceptual framework that shows why extension may be a more powerful driver of management change than incentive programs, and then test this through an evaluation of a case study program conducted with beef cattle producers in catchments of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. The pathway involving landholders to implement management change was through improved efficiency and productivity, as these are the issues that drive ongoing participation in broader environmental programs.

The results present multiple lines of evidence to infer positive outcomes of an extension program in terms of changed management practices, which may be expected to generate improved productivity and better water quality outcomes. These can be grouped into three key areas. First, outcomes show positive improvement relative to the Grazing Water Quality Risk framework for the Great Barrier Reef catchments, which is designed to assess the links between land management and water quality. This indicates that resource condition is likely to improve and sediment emissions should be reduced over time. A second outcome is increased landholder engagement and improved understanding of their business and engagement in future programs, which should underpin ongoing adoption. A third outcome is improved management of risk and developing the skills to do this through data collection and monitoring, which should improve management responses in drought years.


economics, grazing, management, rangelands, land condition, extension program, water quality, Great Barrier Reef, sediment.


The Rangeland Journal Vol. 42 (2) July 2020 



Vegetation change 10 years after cattle removal in a savanna landscape

Jeanette E. KempA,E and Alexander S. KuttB,C,D

– Author Affiliations

AAustralian Wildlife Conservancy, PO Box 8070, Subiaco East, WA 6008, Australia.

BBush Heritage Australia, Level 1, 395 Collins St, Melbourne, Vic. 3000, Australia.

CGreen Fire Science, School of Environmental and Earth Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.

DSchool of BioSciences, University of Melbourne, Royal Parade, Parkville, Vic. 3010, Australia.

ECorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 42(2) 73–84
Submitted: 20 December 2019   Accepted: 6 June 2020   Published: 26 June 2020


Following the establishment of a conservation reserve, changes in ground stratum vegetation following removal of cattle were examined in a northern Australian savanna over a 10-year period. The floristic composition of 40 vegetation plots in lowland savannas were surveyed shortly after acquisition of the property, and then surveyed twice in the following 10 years after cattle removal. Some notable ecosystem-transforming introduced species (weeds) such as Themeda quadrivalvis remained relatively stable, whereas the pasture legume Stylosanthes scabra increased in cover. The species richness of both native and introduced plants increased. Various plant functional groups changed in relative cover, with a decline in relatively unpalatable grasses and a corresponding increase in palatable grasses, responses that are consistent with recovery from grazing pressure. Our results show that removal of cattle in highly disturbed savanna ecosystems can have both positive and negative results for native ground stratum vegetation in the first decade of recovery.

Additional keywords: conservation, grazing, grader grass, ground cover, restoration, Stylosanthes, weeds.


The role of soil temperature and seed dormancy in the creation and maintenance of persistent seed banks of Nassella trichotoma (serrated tussock) on the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales

Annemieke RuttledgeA, Ralph D. B. WhalleyB,D, Gregory FalzonC, David BackhouseB and Brian M. SindelB

 – Author Affiliations

ADepartment of Agriculture and Fisheries, PO Box 2282, Toowoomba, Qld 4350, Australia.

BSchool of Environmental and Rural Science, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

CSchool of Science and Technology, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

DCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 42(2) 85–95
Submitted: 13 February 2020  Accepted: 16 June 2020  Published: 3 July 2020


A large and persistent soil seed bank characterises many important grass weeds, including Nassella trichotoma (Nees) Hack. ex Arechav. (serrated tussock), which is a major weed in Australia and other countries. In the present study we examined the effects of constant and alternating temperatures in regulating primary and secondary dormancy and the creation and maintenance of its soil seed bank in northern NSW, Australia. One-month-old seeds were stored at 4, 25°C, 40/10°C and 40°C, in a laboratory, and germination tests were conducted every two weeks. Few seeds germinated following storage at 4°C, compared with seeds stored at 25°C, 40/10°C and 40°C. Nylon bags containing freshly harvested seeds were buried among N. trichotoma stands in early summer, and germination tests conducted following exhumation after each season over the next 12 months. Seeds buried over summer and summer plus autumn had higher germination than seeds buried over summer plus autumn plus winter, but germination increased again in the subsequent spring. Seeds stored for zero, three, six and 12 months at laboratory temperatures were placed on a thermogradient plate with 81 temperature combinations, followed by incubation at constant 25°C of un-germinated seeds. Constant high or low temperatures prolonged primary dormancy or induced secondary dormancy whereas alternating temperatures tended to break dormancy. Few temperature combinations resulted in more than 80% germination.

Additional keywords: after-ripening, dormancy cycling, environmental sensing, seed burial.

Probability distribution of groundcover for runoff prediction in rangeland in the Burnett–Mary Region, Queensland

Jagriti TiwariA, Bofu YuA,D, Bantigegne FentieB and Robin EllisC

 – Author Affiliation

ASchool of Engineering and Built Environment, Griffith University, Kessels Road, Nathan, Qld 4111, Australia.

BDepartment of Environment and Science, Ecoscience Precinct, 41 Boggo Road, Dutton Park, Qld 4102, Australia.

CDepartment of Environment and Science, Bundaberg, Qld 4670, Australia.

DCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 42(2) 97–112
Submitted: 18 November 2019   Accepted: 13 May 2020   Published: 6 June 2020


Considering the degree of spatial and temporal variation of groundcover in grazing land, it is desirable to use a simple and robust model to represent the spatial variation in cover in order to quantify its effect on runoff and soil loss. The purpose of the study was to test whether a two-parameter beta (β) distribution could be used to characterise adequately cover variation in space at the sub-catchment scale. Twenty sub-catchments (area range 35.8–231 km2) in the Burnett–Mary region, Queensland, were randomly selected. Thirty raster layers of groundcover at 30-m resolution were prepared for these 20 sub-catchments with the average cover for the 30 layers ranging from 24% to 91%. Three methods were used to test the appropriateness of the β distribution for characterising the cover variation in space: (i) visual goodness-of-fit assessment and Kolmogorov–Smirnov (K-S) test; (ii) the fractional area with cover ≤53%; and (iii) estimated runoff amount for a given rainfall amount for the area with cover ≤53%. The K-S test on 30 × 100 samples of groundcover showed that the hypothesis of β distribution for groundcover could not be rejected at P = 0.05 for 97.5% of the cases. A comparison of the observed and β distributions in terms of the fractional area with cover ≤53% showed that the discrepancy was ≤8% for the 30 layers considered. A comparison in terms of the estimated runoff showed that results using the observed cover distribution and the β distribution were highly correlated (R2 range 0.91–0.98; Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency measure range 0.88–0.99). The mean absolute error of estimated runoff ranged from 0.98 to 8.10 mm and the error relative to the mean was 4–16%. The results indicated that the two-parameter β distribution can be adequately used to characterise the spatial variation of cover and to evaluate the effect of cover on runoff for these predominantly grazing catchments.

Additional keywords: beta distribution, empirical distribution, ground cover.

Complexities in developing Australian Aboriginal enterprises based on natural resources

Julian T. GormanA,E, Melissa BentivoglioB, Chris BradyC,Penelope WurmA, Sivaram VemuriA and Yasmina SultanbawaD

– Author Affiliations

AResearch Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University, NT 0909, Australia.

BThamarrurr Development Corporation, PO Box 36839, Winnellie, NT 0821, Australia.

CNorthern Land Council, Darwin, 45 Mitchell Street, NT 0801, Australia.

DQueensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, PO Box 156, Archerfield, Brisbane, Qld 4108, Australia.

ECorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 42(2) 113–128
Submitted: 26 February 2020   Accepted: 27 May 2020   Published: 13 June 2020


Across the world’s rangelands, livelihoods of millions of people are dependent on customary and commercial use of wildlife. Many Australian Aboriginal communities also aspire towards developing natural resource-based enterprises but there is a unique combination of historical, legislative and cultural factors that make this process complex. Typically, government support for Indigenous enterprise development has focussed largely on development of ‘social enterprise’, with subsidies coming from various government community development programs. This has resulted in some increase in participation and employment, but often inadequate attention to economic aspects of enterprise development leading to low levels of business success. This paper will examine historical, legislative and institutional dimensions in business development in Aboriginal communities. It does this through a case study of business enterprise development of the Kakadu Plum products by the Indigenous people of the Thamarrurr Region of the Northern Territory, Australia, using a participatory research method and an ethnographic account. We found that attention on important economic criteria was subsumed by a focus on social enterprise priorities during the development of this natural resource-based enterprise. This resulted in a very slow transition of the ‘social enterprise’ to the ‘financial enterprise’, due largely to fragmented business decisions and inefficient value chains. We call for a refocus of natural resource-based enterprise development programs in remote Australian Aboriginal townships to incorporate greater emphasis on business acumen within the complex social, cultural and political fabric.

Additional keywords: Aboriginal, business acumen, education enterprise, natural resources, subsidy.

The cutting depth required to control calotrope (Calotropis procera) plants using mechanical techniques

Shane CampbellA,C,D, Laura RodenA,B, Christopher O’DonnellA,C and Melinda PerkinsC

 – Author Affiliations

ATropical Weeds Research Centre, Biosecurity Queensland, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, PO Box 976, Qld 4820, Australia.

B694 Aremby Road, Bouldercombe, Qld 4702, Australia.

CThe University of Queensland, Gatton Campus, Qld 4343, Australia.

DCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 42(2) 129–134
Submitted: 4 May 2020   Accepted: 15 June 2020   Published: 9 July 2020


Calotrope (Calotropis procera (Aiton) W.T. Aiton) is an exotic woody weed that has invaded northern Australia’s rangelands since being introduced in the early 1900s. To expand the range of control options beyond herbicide-based methods, we undertook a stem/root cutting experiment that helped quantify the potential for using mechanical control techniques. Individual, medium-sized (1.72 ± 0.03 m high) calotrope plants were cut off at ground level (0 cm) or below ground (10 or 20 cm) using either a pruning saw or mattock respectively. All calotrope plants cut at ground level reshot vigorously. After four months they had more than twice the number of stems (7.4 ± 0.54) of the uncut control plants and by 12 months they were only 26 cm shorter than the control plants. In contrast, all plants cut at 10 or 20 cm below ground were killed. Some mortality also started occurring in the control and ground level (0 cm) treatments after eight months, but appeared to be associated with a dieback phenomenon. Nevertheless, the results demonstrate the potential to use equipment that severs the root system below ground, such as blade ploughs and cutter bars. A subsequent stick raking demonstration achieved moderate plant mortality (72%) after 13 months, yet produced a six-fold increase in original plant density as a result of new seedling emergence. This finding supports the view that mechanical disturbance will often promote seedling recruitment, and land managers need to have the capacity to undertake follow-up control practices to avoid exacerbating the problem.

Additional keywords: invasive species, rangeland management, rubber bush, woody weed.

Understanding stocking rate in response to supplementary feed in Inner Mongolia, China

Saheed Olaide JimohA,B, Yantin YinA, Ping LiA, Taofeek Olatunbosun MurainaC and Xiangyang HouA,D

 – Author Affiliations

AGrassland Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences/Key Laboratory of Grassland Ecology and Restoration, Ministry of Agriculture, 120 East Wulanchabu Street, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia 010010, China.

BSustainable Environment Food and Agriculture Initiative, Lagos, 104101, Nigeria.

CInstitute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, No. 12, Zhhongguancun South Street, Haidian District, Beijing, PR China.

DCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 42(2) 135–142
Submitted: 20 November 2019   Accepted: 1 July 2020   Published: 21 July 2020


In grazing systems, stocking rate (SR) is critical for the maintenance of grassland and livestock productivity. However, little is known about the relationship between the amount of supplementary feed used by livestock producers and SR, particularly across the pastoral areas of Inner Mongolia, China. This limits our understanding of whether feed supplements impact SR. Therefore, we studied 716 herding households using a two-round panel dataset collected across the five ecosystem types in Inner Mongolia. We used linear mixed-effects models to examine how the amount of supplementary feeds affects SR. Our results show that feed supplementation is not associated with increased SR across the grassland ecosystems. The amount of grains and pellets used by households was negatively related to SR, whereas the amount of hay was not correlated with SR. Overall, these results demonstrate that feed supplementation did not influence herders’ decision to overgraze grasslands through increased SR. Thus, there is a need for policies that underpins the scientific exploration of novel approaches to the use of supplementary feed in grazing systems. This could help improve environmental sustainability and enhance the attainment of the desired modern livestock production system in Inner Mongolia and other similar ecosystems.

Additional keywords: grassland, grazing systems, herders, livestock.

Different levels of rainfall and trampling change the reproductive strategy of Kobresia humilis in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

Peng ZhenA, Xiao HongA, He XiangA, Xu ChanglinA, Pan TaotaoA and Yu XiaojunA,B

 – Author Affiliations

ACollege of Grassland Science, Gansu Agricultural University; Key Laboratory of Grassland Ecosystem, Ministry of Education; Sino-U.S. Centre for Grassland Ecosystem Sustainability, Lanzhou, Gansu, 730070, China.

BCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 42(2) 143–152
Submitted: 21 September 2019   Accepted: 12 July 2020   Published: 29 July 2020


The sedge Kobresia humilis (C.A. Mey. ex Trautv.) Serg. is the dominant plant in the alpine meadows of China’s Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which has experienced substantial grassland degradation due to reduced rainfall and overgrazing. In this study we sought to determine the reproductive strategy of K. humilis under three levels of rainfall and seven levels of trampling by Tibetan sheep and yaks with a two year simulation trial on the Plateau. With a reduction in rainfall and an increase in trampling intensity, there was a decrease in sexual reproduction indices, plant height and single leaf number. The highest rainfall promoted sexual reproduction, whereas average rainfall was conducive to vegetative reproduction, and the lowest rainfall inhibited reproduction. The reproductive strategy of K. humilis could be judged according to the average rainfall from July to August. Notably, after two years of low rainfall and a heavy trampling treatment, K. humilis produced more seeds with smaller size. The rainfall presented a two-way regulation function in the trampling effect on K. humilis reproductive characteristics.

Additional keywords: alpine meadow, sexual reproduction, simulation trail, vegetative reproduction.


The Rangeland Journal Vol. 42 (1) May 2020


Short-term responses to sheep grazing in a Patagonian steppe

Magalí D. ValentaA,F, Rodolfo A. GolluscioB,C, Ana L. FreyA, Lucas A. GaribaldiD and Pablo A. CipriottiC,E


– Author Affiliations

AUniversidad de Buenos Aires, Facultad de Agronomía, Cátedra de Ovinotecnia, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

BUniversidad de Buenos Aires, Facultad de Agronomía, Cátedra de Forrajicultura, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

CUniversidad de Buenos Aires, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Instituto de Investigaciones Fisiológicas y Ecológicas Vinculadas a la Agricultura (IFEVA), Facultad de Agronomía, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

DInstituto de Investigaciones en Recursos Naturales, Agroecología y Desarrollo Rural (IRNAD), Sede Andina, Universidad Nacional de Río Negro (UNRN) y Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Mitre 630, CP 8400, San Carlos de Bariloche, Río Negro, Argentina.

EUniversidad de Buenos Aires, Facultad de Agronomía. Departamento de Métodos Cuantitativos y Sistemas de Información, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

FCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 42(1) 1–8
Submitted: 15 March 2019   Accepted: 16 December 2019   Published: 25 March 2020


Grazing modifies ecosystem function through direct effects on plants, but also through indirect effects mediated by floristic changes induced by grazing. Although both types of effects occur in the long term, only the direct effects are evident in the short term. We evaluated the short-term direct effects of sheep (Ovis aries) grazing on a Patagonian steppe during one growing season. We measured plant aerial cover in permanent transects located at increasing distances from a watering point in three paddocks with different stocking rates through the growing season. We also measured frequency of defoliation for vegetative and reproductive phases of different plant species located along these transects. Sheep grazing directly (a) reduced aerial cover and/or increased frequency of defoliation of certain preferred grasses and perennial forbs, (b) did not increase the aerial cover of any life form, but only the proportion of bare soil, (c) did not change the litter aerial cover, and (d) defoliated the flowers of even the least preferred shrub. Result a) was coincident with previous plant aerial cover long-term studies; but results (b) and (c) were contrary to long-term studies, probably because they resulted from indirect rather than direct grazing effects. Result (d) was not detected by long-term studies, probably because flower defoliation through grazing is undetectable when measuring shrub plant aerial cover. Our study showed that grazing has short-term direct effects mainly on the most preferred species. This could be useful for rangeland management and conservation of Patagonian steppes because short-term effects may be more easily reversible than long-term ones, and may provide early warning of rangeland condition deterioration.

Additional keywords: degradation, defoliation, herbivory, non-preferred species, plant functional types, preferred species.


Calf loss in northern Australia: a systematic review

Anita Z. ChangA,B, David L. SwainA and Mark G. TrotterA


– Author Affiliations

AInstitute for Future Farming Systems, School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton North, Qld 4701, Australia.

BCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 42(1) 9–26
Submitted: 4 July 2019  Accepted: 21 January 2020  Published: 27 February 2020


Calf mortality is a key issue for the north Australian beef industry; however, the sector faces several challenges that preclude the detection and reduction of calf mortality rates. A systematic literature review methodology was employed to explore scientific literature describing the scope of calf loss in northern Australia. Online databases were used to locate articles reporting on beef calf mortality rates within the north Australian region. Articles (n = 43) consisting of 668 beef cattle cohorts were retrieved that reported calf mortality between 1936 and 2014. Of these, 13 different observation periods were identified. Most cohorts (n = 201) examined mortality between the pregnancy to weaning period, whereas only 20 cohorts in four studies were located that investigated calf mortality in the perinatal and postnatal periods. A broad seasonal and regional influence was identified. However, the dilution of the datasets due to the high number of timeline variations, prevented robust statistical analysis and the further examination of influential factors, such as breed. The results of the systematic literature review indicate that the resolution of the data available does not allow for producers or researchers to accurately target the occurrence or cause of calf mortality. Experimental protocols for future research pertaining to reproductive efficiency and calf loss in northern Australia should be standardised. Consistency in reporting factors and periods must first occur for robust statistical analyses to be achieved.

Additional keywords: beef cow, calf mortality, reproductive wastage.


Free-ranging horse management in Australia, New Zealand and the United States: socio-ecological dimensions of a protracted environmental conflict

  1. D. ScastaA,E, M. AdamsB, R. GibbsC and B. FleuryD


– Author Affiliation

ADepartment of Ecosystem Science and Management, University of Wyoming, 1000 East University Avenue Laramie, Wyoming, WY 82071, USA.

BSchool of Geography and Sustainable Communities, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.

CKosciuszko National Park, National Park Service, Jindabyne, New South Wales, Australia.

DDepartment of Conservation/Te Papa Atawhai, Taranaki, Wanganui and Manawatu, New Zealand.

ECorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 42(1) 27–43
Submitted: 3 April 2019   Accepted: 5 May 2020   Published: 26 May 2020


Management of free-ranging horses (Equus ferus caballus) is a complex socio-ecological issue in Australia (AU), New Zealand (NZ), and the United States (US).  In these countries, horses are the results of colonial introductions and occupy very harsh rangeland environments exerting a grazing disturbance that has generated ecological concerns.  Although many social and ecological concerns are similar, each country also has nuances.  In 2018, we conducted a field-based comparison of AU, NZ, and US using an inductive approach to identify similarities, differences, and emerging themes through conversations with >100 individuals from New South Wales Australia, the North Island of New Zealand, and the western US.  Additional data sources included field observations and archival documents.  Consistent emergent themes identified included: strong public emotion, politicization of management, population growth concerns, negative ecological impact concerns, agreement that horses should be treated humanely, disagreement as to what practices were the most humane, interest and scepticism about fertility control, the need for transparency, compromise to accommodating horses and acknowledgement of social values, and recognition that collaboration is the only means to achieve both healthy rangelands and healthy horses.  Unique themes identified included: NZ empowering advocate groups to become part of the solution, conflict between horses and livestock is a mostly US conflict, equids originated in the US, concern about the sustainability of adoption programs, different expectations/options for management on private lands, cultural history such as brumby running in AU, permanent branding of horses in the US, litigation as a uniquely US strategy (although a judgement on recent AU litigation is pending), government data accepted to guide removals in NZ but not always in AU or US, and complex heterogeneous land surface ownership patterns makes management difficult in the US.  The difficulty of horse management in these countries is attributed to social intricacies rather than biological/ecological gaps of knowledge.

Additional keywords: ecosystem management, feral horses, grazing management, herbivory, landscape ecology, rangeland management.


Evaluation of the growth response of arid zone invasive species Salvia verbenaca cultivars to atmospheric carbon dioxide and soil moisture

Sandra L. WellerA, Muhammad M. JavaidB and Singarayer K. FlorentineA,C


– Author Affiliations

ACentre for Environmental Management, School of Health and Life Sciences, Federation University Australia, Mt Helen, Vic. 3350, Australia.

BDepartment of Agronomy, College of Agriculture, University of Sargodha, Sargodha, Pakistan.

CCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 42(1) 45–53
Submitted: 12 August 2019   Accepted: 20 February 2020   Published: 9 April 2020


Although climate change is expected to affect the ecology of many weed species, the nature and scale of these responses is presently not well defined. This presages a suite of potential problems for the agricultural industries. Consequently, we investigated the effects of anticipated climate change on biomass and seed production, for two varieties of wild sage, Salvia verbenaca L. var. verbenaca and Salvia verbenaca var. vernalis Bioss. For the investigation, ambient (400 ppm) and elevated (700 ppm) carbon dioxide conditions, in combination with well-watered (100% field capacity) and drought conditions (60% field capacity), were selected to represent alternative climate scenarios. The alteration in biomass production was represented by a combined measurement of nine variables; plant height, stem diameter, number of leaves, number of branches, leaf area, leaf thickness, shoot biomass, root biomass and dry leaf weight, and fecundity was measured via two variables; 100 seed weight and number of seeds per plant. All biomass measurements were reduced in a drought situation compared with well-watered conditions in ambient carbon dioxide (400 ppm), and each corresponding measurement was greater under elevated carbon dioxide (700 ppm) regardless of water treatment. In contrast, this was not observed for 100 seed weight or number of seeds per plant. Although a similar profile of a reduction in fecundity parameters was observed under drought conditions compared with well-watered conditions in ambient carbon dioxide, there was an increase in seed mass only for var. verbenaca under elevated carbon dioxide in both water treatments. In addition, there was a very small increase in the number of seeds in this species under drought conditions in elevated carbon dioxide, with neither increase in seed mass or seed number being observed in var. vernalis. These results suggest that although future climate change may result in increased competition of both these varieties with desirable plants, their management strategies will need to focus on effects of increased size of the weeds, rather than only attempting to reduce the seed bank holdings.

Additional keywords: elevated CO2, fecundity weed, plant growth, wild sage.


Plateau pikas (Ochotona curzoniae) at low densities have no destructive effect on winter pasture in alpine meadows at low densities

  1. R. WeiA,B,E, J. D. HeC and Q. Y. ZhengD


– Author Affiliations

AKey Laboratory of Southwest China Wildlife Resources Conservation (Ministry of Education), College of Life Sciences, China West Normal University, Nanchong, China.

BState Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-Ecosystems, College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, China.

CKey Laboratory of Southwest China Wildlife Resources Conservation (Ministry of Education), China West Normal University, Nanchong, China.

DChina West Normal University, Nanchong, China.

ECorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 42(1) 55–61
Submitted: 25 June 2019   Accepted: 2 April 2020   Published: 14 April 2020


The plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae) is a common small mammal species present in the alpine meadow ecosystem on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP), and is regarded as a pest in alpine meadows when population density exceeds a certain threshold. However, whether pikas with a low population density have a detrimental effect on alpine meadows in winter pasture is unknown. Vegetation and soil were sampled in eight individual pika patchy home ranges and eight control areas, and we found vegetation and soil properties showed different trends in the pika home ranges. Plateau pika activity significantly increased the below-ground biomass, soil pH and total potassium, but had no significant effect on the plant species richness or diversity, soil moisture, NH4-N, NO3-N, total phosphorus, available phosphorus and soil organic content. However, plateau pika activity reduced some vegetation and soil properties (e.g. vegetation cover, vegetation height, aboveground biomass, graminoids, soil bulk density and available potassium). These results imply that pika activity may improve some soil nutrients but have no destructive effect on winter pasture at a low population density.

Additional keywords: alpine meadow, home range, plateau pika, soil nutrients.


Stocking rate affects plant community structure and reproductive strategies of a desirable and an undesirable grass species in an alpine steppe, Qilian Mountains, China

Yarong GuoA, Xiong Z. HeB, Fujiang HouA,C and Jizhou RenA


– Author Affiliations

AState Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-ecosystems, Key Laboratory of Grassland Livestock Industry Innovation, Ministry of Agriculture, College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, Gansu 730020, China.

BSchool of Agriculture and Environment, Massey University, Private Bag 11-222, Palmerston North 4472, New Zealand.

CCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 42(1) 63–69
Submitted: 24 October 2019   Accepted: 7 May 2020   Published: 21 May 2020


The effects of grazing on species reproduction is a fundamental issue of grassland management. We investigated plant density and dry weight changes at community and species levels, and the reproductive strategies of the dominant desirable Stipa purpurea and the undesirable Achnatherum inebrians grass species in response to stocking rate in an alpine steppe with a 10-year grazing history. Results showed complex patterns of plant community and reproductive strategy. Overall plant density increased with increasing stocking rate and dry weight was significantly higher at light and high stocking rates. Plant density and dry weight of A. inebrians peaked at moderate stocking rates. Higher stocking rate had little impact on S. purpurea density but significantly reduced its dry weight. Both species displayed linearly increasing/decreasing or unimodal/bimodal reproductive effort in response to increased stocking rate. The discrepancies in plant reproductive characteristics between S. purpurea and A. inebrians indicated that: (1) light and moderate grazing may promote an adaption strategy of reproduction by desirable species, which may then contribute to their maintenance in grasslands, and (2) undesirable species presence did not lead to the replacement of desirable species in the grasslands. Therefore, light and moderate stocking rates are recommended to maintain the grasslands and to increase the reproductive outputs of desirable species.

Additional keywords: deer, grazing, plant community structure, poisonous plant, reproductive organ, Stipa purpurea, tiller density.


Past, present and future of state and transition language

Brian WalkerA,C and Mark WestobyB


– Author Affiliations


ACSIRO Land and Water, GPO Box 1700, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

BDepartment of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia.

CCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 42(1) 71–72
Submitted: 12 March 2020   Accepted: 26 March 2020   Published: 13 April 2020



The Rangeland Journal Vol. 41 (6) March, 2020 Special Issue


Total grazing pressure – a defining concept for extensive pastoral systems in the southern rangelands of Australia

  1. R.B. HackerA,D, K. SinclairB and C. M. WatersC

– Author Affiliations

ARon Hacker Rangeland Consulting Services, 29 Edward St, Tenambit, NSW 2323, Australia; formerly NSW Department of Primary Industries, Trangie Agricultural Research Centre, Trangie, NSW 2823, Australia.

BNSW Department of Primary Industries, Wollongbar Primary Industries Institute, 1243 Bruxner Highway, Wollongbar, NSW 2477, Australia.

CNSW Department of Primary Industries, Orange Agricultural Institute, 1447 Forest Road, Orange, NSW 2800, Australia.

DCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(6) 457–460
Submitted: 2 May 2019  Accepted: 27 August 2019   Published: 12 February 2020


In Australia, particularly in the southern rangelands, large populations of native and feral herbivores (including kangaroos, goats, rabbits, pigs, donkeys and camels, depending on the location) co-exist with domestic livestock. In recent decades the concept of ‘total grazing pressure’ has been developed, and widely accepted, to denote the total forage demand of all vertebrate herbivores relative to the forage supply. This concept provides a framework within which both domestic and non-domestic species can be managed to allow commercially viable livestock production, landscape maintenance or restoration and species conservation. The concept should have relevance wherever pest animal control programs, biodiversity conservation, or commercialisation of wildlife are conducted in conjunction with extensive livestock production. The rationale for the compilation of the Special Issue is outlined.

Additional keywords: pest animals, social licence, sustainable land use, vertebrate herbivores.



Land managers and service providers perspectives on the magnitude, impact and management of non-domestic grazing pressure in the southern rangelands of Australia

  1. T. AtkinsonA,E, R. B. HackerB, G. J. MelvilleC and J. Reseigh

– Author Affiliations

ANSW Department of Primary Industries, 34 Hampden Street, Dubbo, NSW 2823, Australia.

BRon Hacker Rangeland Consulting Services, 29 Edward Street, Tenambit, NSW 2323, Australia; formerly New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Trangie Agricultural Research Centre, Trangie, NSW 2823, Australia.

CPO Box 9007, Orange East, NSW 2800, Australia; formerly NSW Department of Primary Industries, Trangie Agricultural Research Centre, Trangie, NSW 2823, Australia.

DRural Solutions SA, Primary Industries and Regions SA, PO Box 62, Kyancutta, SA 5651, Australia.

ECorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(6) 165–175
Submitted: 17 August 2019   Accepted: 21 February 2020   Published: 24 March 2020


In the southern rangelands of Australia, the capability of land managers to manage total grazing pressure, with support from their service providers, influences resource condition, livestock production and pastoral business profitability. This study investigated the perspectives of people who face the challenge of managing total grazing pressure. Self-administered surveys were used to collect the perspectives of 220 land managers and 46 service providers to total grazing pressure management and the impacts of grazing animals.

Land managers and service providers agreed that, on average, 40 to 50% of the total demand for forage is due to non-domestic animals, that a reduction in this component is required, and that current levels are at least double the desirable level. The majority of respondents (>54%) assessed both livestock and non-domestic animals to have a negative impact on soils and pastures. However, livestock were more frequently assessed to have a positive impact on soils and pastures than non-domestic animals. The respondents commonly suggested that the impact livestock have on soils and pastures depends on management.

Non-domestic animals were assessed by the majority of respondents to have a negative impact on livestock production and business profitability, apart from unmanaged goats where opinions were divided. Both land managers and service providers used the “large negative” category to describe the impact on livestock production and business profitability more frequently for kangaroos than for any other herbivore.

There were significant differences in the respondents’ perspectives among the States. Respondents in New South Wales and Queensland estimated a higher proportion of demand for forage from non-domestic animals than respondents from other States. The respondents in New South Wales also more frequently assessed unmanaged goats to have a positive impact on business profitability compared with the other States.

Total grazing pressure management was rated as a high priority issue by 66% of respondents. ‘Improved kangaroo management’ and ‘fencing’ were the two main factors identified with potential to make a substantial difference to total grazing pressure management in the next ten years.

Additional keywords: camels, donkeys, forage demand, goats, herbivores, kangaroos, livestock production, rabbits, resource condition.


Public attitudes to animal welfare and landholder resource limitations: implications for total grazing pressure management in the southern rangelands of Australia

K. SinclairA,B,E, A. L. CurtisB, T. AtkinsonC and R. B. Hacker

– Author Affiliations

ANew South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Wollongbar Primary Industries Institute, 1243 Bruxner Highway, Wollongbar, NSW 2477, Australia.

BGraham Centre for Agricultural Innovation (an alliance between Charles Sturt University and NSW Department of Primary Industries), Charles Sturt University, Locked Bag 588, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2678, Australia.

CNSW Department of Primary Industries, 34 Hampden Street, Dubbo, NSW 2830, Australia.

DRon Hacker Rangeland Consulting Services, 29 Edward St, Tenambit, NSW 2323, Australia; formerly NSW Dept of Primary Industries, Trangie Agricultural Research Centre, Trangie, NSW 2823, Australia.

ECorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(6) 477-484
Submitted: 2 July 2019   Accepted: 22 January 2020   Published: 28 February 2020


Sustainable grazing in the nationally iconic southern rangelands of Australia requires landholders to actively manage the grazing pressure from both domestic livestock and non-domestic herbivores. Landholders have primary responsibility for controlling the non-domestic herbivores. In doing so, they must meet the Australian public’s expectations for resource conservation (mainly a public good) and animal welfare. Governments are also involved in the management of non-domestic herbivores via native and feral animal legislation and control programs. The Australian public will not accept cruelty to animals, perceived or otherwise. In this paper we explore the challenges faced by landholders in their attempts to manage the grazing pressure from native herbivores, particularly kangaroos, feral goats and feral pigs, while meeting the Australian public’s expectations for animal welfare. Landholders typically live on extensive properties and their capacity to manage these is influenced by high climate variability, low labour availability, commodity price fluctuations and limited capital available for investment in new technologies. The additional requirement to reduce the grazing pressure from kangaroos, feral goats and feral pigs is a significant burden on already time-poor landholders. Hence, there is a critical disparity between landholders’ capacity and their responsibility to effectively manage the non-domestic herbivores on their properties. We suggest that current expectations of landholders to deliver public benefits by publicly acceptable practices are unreasonable. Further, we suggest that governments should accept more responsibility for managing non-domestic grazing pressure. The concept of duty of care to land management provides a means by which a more appropriate division of responsibilities between landholders and government could be achieved to ensure that valued attributes of this iconic Australian landscape are retained.

Additional keywords: community, duty of care, expectations, land condition, pest animal control.

Stakeholder judgements of the social acceptability of control practices for kangaroos, unmanaged goats and feral pigs in the south-eastern rangelands of Australia

K. SinclairA,B,E, A. L. CurtisB, R. B. HackerC and T. AtkinsonD

– Author Affiliations

ANew South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Wollongbar Primary Industries Institute, 1243 Bruxner Highway, Wollongbar, NSW 2477, Australia.

BGraham Centre for Agricultural Innovation (an alliance between Charles Sturt University and NSW Department of Primary Industries), Charles Sturt University, Locked Bag 588, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2678, Australia.

CRon Hacker Rangeland Consulting Services, 29 Edward Street, Tenambit, NSW 2323, Australia; formerly New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Trangie Agricultural Research Centre, Trangie, NSW 2823, Australia.

DNew South Wales Department of Primary Industries, 34 Hampden Street, Dubbo, NSW 2830, Australia.

ECorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(6) 485–496
Submitted: 2 July 2019  Accepted: 2 February 2020  Published: 24 March 2020


Total grazing pressure (TGP) is a key driver of productivity in livestock systems in the south-eastern rangelands of Australia. Sustainable grazing in these environments requires the management of grazing pressure from kangaroos, unmanaged goats and feral pigs, as well as livestock. Any practices used to control these species must be socially acceptable. Twenty-four semi-structured interviews with individuals drawn from key stakeholder groups were conducted to assess the acceptability of control practices for each of these species. Commercial shooting was the most acceptable control practice for kangaroos with a much lower acceptance of non-commercial shooting. A trap yard (at a water point) was the most acceptable practice for control of unmanaged goats with shooting least acceptable. Ground shooting, trapping and 1080 baiting were the most acceptable practices for control of feral pigs with dogging least acceptable. The two key criteria for social acceptance of control practices by stakeholder group interviewees were humaneness and effectiveness. Acceptance was also influenced by interviewees’ attitudes towards particular species. Interviewees typically distinguished between control of native wildlife and ‘feral’ animals, and between ‘resource’ animals and ‘pest’ animals. Importantly, support for control programs to manage TGP must be justifiable and employ practices that are socially acceptable.

Additional keywords: assessment, pest animal management, communities of interest, TGP, total grazing pressure.


Macropods, feral goats, sheep and cattle.

1. Equivalency in how much they eat

L. Pahl

– Author Affiliation

Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, PO Box 102, Toowoomba, Qld 4350, Australia. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(6) 497–518
Submitted: 4 July 2019   Accepted: 3 December 2019   Published: 11 February 2020


The extent to which goats and cattle eat equivalent amounts of forage as sheep has been based on their maintenance energy requirements (MERs) relative to a 50 kg wether or dry ewe, known as a dry sheep equivalent (DSE). As such, a 50 kg goat was considered 1 DSE and a 450 kg steer as 7–8 DSE. In comparison, the DSE of macropods has been based on their basal metabolic rate (BMR) or energy expenditure of grazing (EEg) relative to those of sheep, with a 50 kg macropod thought to be 0.7 and 0.45 DSE respectively. Based on published energy requirements of goats, macropods and cattle relative to sheep, their DSE values are estimated to be 1.2, 1.0 and 7.6 respectively. However, relative energy requirements may not be the same as relative dry matter intakes (DMIs), due to differences in forage quality, the structure of digestive tracts and selective foraging capabilities. Allometric equations that predict DMI were developed from published liveweights and intakes of sheep, goats, macropods and cattle. Given DMIs when fed high-quality forage, a 50 kg goat was 1 DSE, a 50 kg macropod was 0.7 DSE and a 450 kg steer was 7.6 DSE. Their DMIs were depressed by 35–50% when fed low-quality forage, but a goat remained as 1 DSE, macropods increased to 1.0 DSE and cattle increased to 8.3 DSE. The capacity of macropods to maintain relatively higher DMIs of low-quality forage than sheep is probably due of their faster digesta passage rates and more expandable stomachs. These DMIs of animals provided ad-libitum quantities of similar forages in small pens are likely to differ from their DMIs when selectively grazing heterogeneous rangeland pastures. Under these conditions, sheep select higher-quality diets than cattle, and kangaroos select higher-quality diets than sheep, which increase the relative DMIs of the smaller herbivores. For this reason, a 50 kg macropod is likely to be 1 DSE and consume twice as much forage than previously assumed.

Additional keywords: allometric equations, diet quality, energy requirements, intake.


Macropods, feral goats, sheep and cattle.

2. Equivalency in what and where they eat

L. Pahl

– Author Affiliation

Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, PO Box 102, Toowoomba, Qld 4350, Australia. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(6) 519–533
Submitted: 4 August 2019   Accepted: 31 December 2019   Published: 11 February 2020


The extent to which sheep, cattle, feral goats, red kangaroos, western grey kangaroos, euros and eastern grey kangaroos are equivalent in their use of the Australian southern rangelands is partly dependent on the extent to which their diets and foraging areas overlap. These herbivores all eat large amounts of green annual grasses, ephemeral forbs and the green leaf of perennial grasses when they are available. Overlap in use of these forages by all seven herbivores is concurrent and high. As the abundance of these preferred forages declines, sheep, cattle and feral goats consume increasing amounts of mature perennial grasses and chenopod and non-chenopod perennial forbs. Red kangaroos and western grey kangaroos continue to graze mature perennial grasses longer than sheep, cattle and feral goats, and only switch to perennial forbs when the quantity and quality of perennial grasses are poor. Consequently, overlap in use of perennial forbs by sheep, cattle, feral goats, red kangaroos and western grey kangaroos is sequential and moderately high. When palatable perennial forbs are eaten out, the diets of all herbivores except feral goats comprise predominantly dry perennial grass, and overlap is again concurrent and high. In comparison, feral goats have higher preferences for the browse of a wide range of shrubs and trees, and switch to these much earlier than the other herbivores. When perennial grasses and perennial forbs become scarce, sheep, feral goats and cattle browse large shrubs and trees, and overlap is sequential and high. If climatic conditions remain dry, then red and western grey kangaroos will also browse large shrubs and trees, but overlap between them, sheep, cattle and goats is sequential and low. In contrast to the other herbivores, the diets of euros and eastern grey kangaroos are comprised predominantly of perennial grasses, regardless of climatic conditions. As for diet composition, concurrent overlap in foraging distributions of sheep, cattle, feral goats and the four species of macropods is often low. However, over periods of several months to two or three years, as climatic conditions change, overlap in foraging distributions is sequential and high. While equivalency in what and where these herbivores eat is not quantifiable, it appears to be high overall. This is particularly so for perennial grass, which is the dominant forage for herbivores in the southern rangelands.

Additional keywords: diet composition, diet overlap, food preferences, grazing distribution.


Insights on the relationship between total grazing pressure management and sustainable land management: key indicators to verify impacts

C. M. WatersA,F, S. E. McDonaldB, J. ReseighC, R. GrantD and D. G. BurnsideE

– Author Affiliations

ANSW Department of Primary Industries, Orange Agricultural Institute, 1447 Forest Road, Orange, NSW 2800, Australia.

BNSW Department of Primary Industries, Trangie Agricultural Research Centre, Mitchell Highway, Trangie, NSW 2823, Australia.

CRural Solutions SA, Primary Industries and Regions SA, PO Box 62, Kyancutta, SA 5651, Australia.

DFormerly Western Local Land Services, Cobar, NSW 2835, Australia.

ED.G. Burnside and Associates, 29 Woodsome Street, Mount Lawley, WA 6050, Australia.

FCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(6) 535–556
Submitted: 4 October 2019   Accepted: 14 January 2020   Published: 24 March 2020


Demonstrating sustainable land management (SLM) requires an understanding of the linkages between grazing management and environmental stewardship. Grazing management practices that incorporate strategic periods of rest are promoted internationally as best practice. However, spatial and temporal trends in unmanaged feral (goat) and native (kangaroo) populations in the southern Australian rangelands can result land managers having, at times, control over less than half the grazing pressure, precluding the ability to rest pastures. Few empirical studies have examined the impacts of total grazing pressure (TGP) on biodiversity and resource condition, while the inability to manage grazing intensity at critical times may result in negative impacts on ground cover, changes in pasture species composition, increased rates of soil loss and reduce the ability for soils to store carbon. The widespread adoption of TGP control through exclusion fencing in the southern Australian rangelands has created unprecedented opportunities to manage total grazing pressure, although there is little direct evidence that this infrastructure leads to more sustainable land management. Here we identify several key indicators that are either outcome- or activity-based that could serve as a basis for verification of the impacts of TGP management. Since TGP is the basic determinant of the impact of herbivory on vegetation it follows that the ability for rangeland pastoral management to demonstrate SLM and environmental stewardship will rely on using evidence-based indicators to support environmental social licence to operate.

Additional keywords: biodiversity, grazing intensity, ground cover, kangaroo and goat populations, soil carbon.


Do concerns about kangaroo management represent an existential threat for the red meat industry in the southern Australian rangelands?

  1. K. SinclairA,B,D, A. L. CurtisB and T. AtkinsonC

– Author Affiliations

ANew South Wales Department of Primary Industries, 1243 Bruxner Highway, Wollongbar, NSW 2477, Australia.

BGraham Centre for Agricultural Innovation (An alliance between Charles Sturt University and NSW Department of Primary Industries), Charles Sturt University, Locked Bag 588, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2678, Australia.

CNSW Department of Primary Industries, 34 Hampden Street, Dubbo, NSW 2830, Australia.

DCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(6) 557–565
Submitted: 17 August 2019   Accepted: 16 December 2019   Published: 11 February 2020


Concerns raised, including those voiced by animal rights and vegan activists, have limited the available practices by landholders in the southern rangelands to effectively control kangaroos and, over time, the actions of these groups may threaten the existence of the livestock industry. This paper draws on interviews with key stakeholders and workshops with technical experts and red meat industry participants to identify strategies to respond to this potentially existential threat. Strategies include establishing platforms and processes for effective stakeholder engagement, establishing a unified and resourced industry ‘voice’ to effectively engage with government and other stakeholders, and ensuring that the industry self-regulates in order to avoid the potential for rogue elements to undermine its credibility and trustworthiness.

Additional keywords: external risk, landholder viability, macropod control, stakeholder engagement.


Balancing stakeholder interests in kangaroo management – historical perspectives and future prospects

S. R. McLeodA,C and R. B. HackerB

Author Affiliations

AVertebrate Pest Research Unit, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Orange Agricultural Institute, Forest Road, Orange, NSW 2800, Australia.

BRon Hacker Rangeland Consulting Services, 29 Edward Street, Tenambit, NSW 2323, Australia; formerly NSW Department of Primary Industries, Trangie Agricultural Research Centre, Trangie, NSW 2823, Australia.

CCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(6) 567–579
Submitted: 29 July 2019   Accepted: 28 February 2020   Published: 24 March 2020


Kangaroos are commercially harvested in five mainland states of Australia, with the harvest regulated by state government wildlife management agencies and overseen by the Commonwealth government. Non-commercial culling is permitted, and although most kangaroos have traditionally been taken by the commercial kangaroo harvesting industry, the proportion taken non-commercially has increased in recent years. Management plans that guide the regulation of the harvest support the management objectives of wildlife management agencies and the kangaroo industry, but the plans do not successfully address the objectives of other stakeholders including pastoralists and animal protection groups, which focus on minimising the grazing impacts of kangaroos and animal welfare issues respectively. We reviewed the objectives outlined in the management plans for kangaroos in the Australian rangelands and examined alternative systems for managing natural resources to identify if improvements to management could be made. Current management plans for kangaroos principally use fixed harvest rates that are responsive only to the state of the kangaroo population and not to changes in the environments in which kangaroos live. This type of management is reactive, and opportunities for improving management of the environment are limited. A viable alternative is active adaptive management which focuses on explicit measurement of the response of the natural system to management actions and use of this information to modify interventions to better meet management objectives. Active adaptive management is appropriate when management actions can strongly influence system state but the impacts of management are uncertain. We argue that the management of kangaroos and the environments in which they live would benefit from the adoption of an active adaptive management approach by wildlife management agencies.

Additional keywords: adaptive management, commercial harvest, non-commercial culling.


Prospects for ecologically and socially sustainable management of total grazing pressure in the southern rangelands of Australia

R. B. HackerA,D, K. SinclairB and L. PahlC

– Author Affiliations

ARon Hacker Rangeland Consulting Services, 29 Edward Street, Tenambit, NSW 2323, Australia; formerly NSW Department of Primary Industries, Trangie Agricultural Research Centre, Trangie, NSW 2823, Australia.

BNSW Department of Primary Industries, Wollongbar Primary Industries Institute, 1243 Bruxner Highway, Wollongbar, NSW 2477, Australia.

CQueensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Toowoomba, Qld 4350, Australia.

DCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(6) 581–586
Submitted: 9 February 2020   Accepted: 28 February 2020   Published: 24 March 2020


Numerous large herbivore species, both native and exotic, share the southern Australian rangelands with domestic livestock, which often account for only about half of the total grazing pressure. Although each presents its individual challenge to landholders, the management of kangaroos is a key component of ecologically sustainable management of the region because (a) they represent a significant component of the non-domestic grazing pressure, particularly in areas from which dingos and wild dogs have been (partially) removed; (b) commercial harvesting, the means of control that has the highest social acceptability, has been rendered ineffective by the actions of activist groups and market closure due to food safety concerns; (c) the task is largely beyond the capacity of individual landholders; and (d) the same constraints do not apply to other non-domestic components of total grazing pressure. Management of total grazing pressure, and particularly kangaroos, currently represents a case of market failure because the level of management that can be expected of landholders is not consistent with public expectations for resource conservation and animal welfare. Several avenues are available by which kangaroo management could be advanced to achieve both public and private benefits. These include adoption of an active, adaptive management approach to the kangaroo population, establishment of arrangements that will shift the general perception of kangaroos from pest to resource, development of an appropriate incentive framework to achieve desirable landscape outcomes, and continued evaluation of the benefits and costs of cluster fencing. These initiatives require both a greater commitment from governments to address the market failure and a proactive stance by industry to engage stakeholders, self-regulate, and objectively demonstrate environmental and animal welfare credentials.

Additional keywords: duty of care, kangaroos, social licence.



The Rangeland Journal Vol. 41 (5) December, 2019


Plant litter decomposition in a semiarid rangeland of Argentina: species and defoliation effects

Mariela L. AmbrosinoA,B, Carlos A. BussoC,D,F, Yanina A. TorresD,E, Leticia S. IthurrartD, Juan M. MartínezC,D, Gabriela MinoldoD, Daniela S. CardilloC and Iris R. PalomoC

– Author Affiliations

AConsejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Argentina.

BFacultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de La Pampa, 6300 Santa Rosa, Provincia de La Pampa, Argentina.

CCERZOS [Centro de Recursos Naturales Renovables de la Zona Semiárida (CONICET)] 8000 Bahía Blanca, Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

DDepartamento de Agronomía, Universidad Nacional del Sur (UNS), 8000 Bahía Blanca, Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

ECIC (Comisión de Investigaciones Científicas de la Provincia de Buenos Aires) 8000 Bahía Blanca, Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

FCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(5) 371–381
Submitted: 28 June 2018 Accepted: 18 September 2019 Published: 23 October 2019


Plant litter decomposition is critical for terrestrial ecosystem productivity. Poa ligularis Nees ex Steud and Nassella tenuis (Phil.) Barkworth are native, desirable perennial grasses in central Argentina’s rangelands. Amelichloa ambigua (Speg.) Arriaga & Barkworth is only consumed when a better forage is unavailable. Litter traps were used to collect aboveground litter during two years. In March 2012, six bags, each one containing either leaf blade (three bags, one per species) or root litter (three bags, one per species) of the three species were located below the canopy of each replicate plant of the studied species (hereafter referred to as ‘location’). Blade litter bags were located on the soil surface, and root litter bags buried at 10 cm soil depth. This allowed evaluation of the effects of defoliation, the different species canopies and the microbial community activity around their roots on decomposition of above- and belowground litter. For each species, twenty plants were either defoliated twice (5 cm stubble height) or remained undefoliated during the growing season. Litter bags were collected after 2, 7, 13 and 24 months incubation. The study was repeated in 2013, with additional bags were placed for N content determination on leaf blade and root litters. Aboveground litter production was highest in P. ligularis; however, no differences were observed among species when the effect of plant size was eliminated. Aboveground litter of desirable species had higher N content and decomposed faster than that of A. ambigua. The opposite was recorded for root litter. Defoliation had no effect on litter decomposition, but location effects were detected after one year of incubation. Desirable perennial grasses promoted organic matter loss from litter, a key factor in increasing soil fertility in this semiarid ecosystem.

Additional keywords: desirable and undesirable grasses, leaf litter, nitrogen, perennial grasses.


The role of seedbanks in invasions by Hyparrhenia hirta (L.) Stapf in Australia

Vinod K. ChejaraA, Paul KristiansenB, R. D. B. (Wal) WhalleyB,C, Brian M. SindelB and Christopher NadolnyB

– Author Affiliations

ANorthern Land Council, 45 Mitchell Street, Darwin, NT 0800, Australia.

BSchool of Environmental and Rural Science, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

CCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(5) 383–392
Submitted: 12 June 2019 Accepted: 25 August 2019   Published: 2 October 2019


Hyparrhenia hirta (L.) Stapf (also known as Coolatai grass, South African bluestem or thatching grass) has become a serious invasive weed in Australia. Within its native range, it is generally regarded as a useful grass particularly for thatching, and seed production is low with a low soil seed bank of from 2 to 200 seeds m–2. Several hundred accessions of H. hirta were deliberately introduced into Australia up until the 1980s and nearly all were discarded because of poor seed production. However, at least one introduction in the 1890s in northern New South Wales (NSW), Australia, has possibly contributed to the present serious weed problem. Annual seed production from roadside stands in northern NSW ranged from 7000 to 92 000 seeds m–2 in 2015. The soil seed bank under dense H. hirta infestations in the same region in 2006 and 2007, was found to be ~30 000 seeds m–2 mostly confined to the top 2 cm, with few dormant seeds and a large reduction of these numbers over the next 12 months when further seed input was prevented. Similar studies of other perennial grass weeds have found seed banks of similar sizes, but dormancy mechanisms ensure that their seed banks last for at least 10 years without further seed input. These results suggest that the present weedy populations of H. hirta have dramatically increased fecundity enabling a large seed bank to develop beneath dense stands. The development of seed dormancy and consequently a long-lived seed bank would make this weed even more difficult to control. Until seed dormancy develops, control of H. hirta in northern NSW can be effective provided further input into the seed bank can be prevented.

Additional keywords: buried seeds, germination, invasive weed, seed distribution, seed fate, seedling emergence, weed ecology.


Recovery of Pindan vegetation on seismic lines

Stuart J. DawsonA,E, Peter J. AdamsB, Kris I. WaddingtonC, Katherine E. MosebyD and Patricia A. FlemingA

– Author Affiliations

AEnvironmental and Conservation Sciences, School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, 90 South Street, WA 6150, Australia.

BInvasive Species and Environment Biosecurity, Department of Primary Industries and Regional

Development, 3 Baron-Hay Ct, South Perth, WA 6151, Australia.

CBuru Energy, Level 2, 16 Ord St, West Perth, WA, Australia.

DSchool of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, High Street, Randwick, NSW 2052, Australia.

ECorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(5) 393–403
Submitted: 9 July 2019  Accepted: 11 November 2019   Published: 20 December 2019


Exploration for oil and gas resources requiring the clearing of seismic lines has been occurring in central and northern Australia for many years. For example, seismic surveys have been conducted in the West Kimberley region of Western Australia since the 1960s. Despite this being a widespread practice, the recovery of vegetation on seismic lines has not been well studied. To better understand vegetation recovery in the West Kimberley, we conducted vegetation surveys on recovering seismic lines cleared using a raised-blade technique, from ~two months to 4.9 years post-clearing, and compared them to paired control plots. Generally, the vegetation structure and community composition on seismic lines recovered quickly, with no discernible difference between control and seismic plots that were cleared more than 6 months prior. Some individual vegetation characteristics (e.g. understorey density and overstorey cover) recovered slowly, whereas other characteristics such as the number of individual grasses, recovered quickly. Vegetation recovery was confounded by the time since fire, which accounted for differences in vegetation structure at 1–2 years and 3–4 years since clearing. The fast recovery rate observed suggests that raised-blade clearing may not present a lasting impact on Pindan vegetation in the West Kimberley.

Additional keywords: disturbance, fire, recovery, seismic line.


Effects of grazing season and stocking rate on seed bank in sheep dung on the semiarid Loess Plateau

Shulin WangA, An HuA, Jing ZhangA and Fujiang HouA,B

– Author Affiliations

AState Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-Ecosystems, Key Laboratory of Grassland Livestock Industry Innovation, Ministry of Agriculture and College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, 730000, Gansu, China.

BCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(5) 405–413
Submitted: 8 June 2019  Accepted: 16 October 2019  Published: 12 November 2019


Endozoochorous dispersal of seeds by livestock has long attracted the attention of grassland scientists, but little is known about seed dispersal via Tan sheep dung on the dry grasslands of the Loess Plateau. We investigated the composition of dung seed bank of Tan sheep under summer and winter rotational grazing regimes at different stocking rates (2.7, 5.3 and 8.7 sheep ha–1), and assessed the relationships between seed mass and shape, egested seedling density and species richness and diversity. We also assessed the effects of stocking rate and grazing season on seedling density and species richness and diversity of the dung seed bank. Seeds of 10 pasture species germinated from Tan sheep dung with only two being annual species (Eragrostis pilosa and Chenopodium glaucum). The mean seed mass (±s.e.) was 2.59 ± 0.23 mg, ranging from 0.10 mg (Cleistogenes songorica) to 10.59 mg (Thermopsis lanceolata), and the mean seed shape index (±s.e.) was 0.10 ± 0.02, ranging from 0.03 (Lespedeza bicolor) to 0.19 (Stipa bungeana). Species richness and diversity and seedling density decreased with increasing seed mass and shape index, suggesting that small, round seeds are most suitable for endozoochorous dispersal. Stocking rate had no effect on the number of germinated seeds that collected from summer or winter grazing pastures. Species richness and diversity and seedling density were greater in winter grazing pastures than in summer grazing pastures. Jaccard coefficients of similarity between the Tan sheep dung bank and aboveground vegetation were <0.5 for all stocking rates, indicating their weak relationship, but were significantly higher for winter than summer grazing. Plant seeds on the Loess Plateau could disperse through Tan sheep grazing, endozoochory can increase the heterogeneity of rotationally grazed plant communities, and this dispersal mode is an adaptation of plants to the harsh environment of the semiarid areas.

Additional keywords: endozoochory, grazing intensity, rangeland management, similarity, Tan sheep.


The morphological characteristics and germination of grassland forb species after simulated digestion by sheep in the Tianshan Mountains, China

  1. B. CheA, S. L. WangA, W. H. LuA,B, S. F. JinA, Y. S. ChenA, N. N. LiA and H. R. SunA

– Author Affiliations

ACollege of Animal Science and Technology, Shihezi University, Shihezi, Xinjiang 832000, China.

BCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(5) 415–423
Submitted: 11 March 2019  Accepted: 24 November 2019  Published: 20 December 2019


Viable seeds from dry-fruited forbs growing in the Tianshan Mountains of China are often found in livestock dung. However, the effect of ingestion on their morphological characteristics and germination remains unclear. This research assessed the germination of 15 forbs after simulated ingestion (insertion through a rumen fistula) by Kazakh sheep. Seed accessory structures (such as wings, trichomes and mucilage) were digested. Seed length, width and thickness were negatively correlated with digestion time, and 100-seed mass was negatively (but not significantly) correlated with digestion time. The means of seed morphological traits (except for the seed shape index) and germination generally decreased. Germination was negatively correlated with digestion time. Germination of Rumex acetosa, Leontice incerta and Lonicera hispida initially increased and then decreased with increased digestion time, while germination of the other 12 seeds all significantly decreased with increased digestion time. Germination of Plantago depressa, Alyssum desertorum, Lachnoloma lehmannii, Tulipa gesneriana, Tauscheria lasiocarpa and Calligonum rubicundum decreased to zero after 24 h digestion, whereas the other nine seeds still had some level of vigour. Seeds of several forbs survived rumen digestion, indicating the potential for endozoochorous seed dispersal, a dispersal mechanism known to enhance survival in dynamic and harsh desert habitats.

Additional keywords: grazing ecology, seed dormancy, seed ecology, semiarid rangelands.


Combined effects of grazing and climate warming drive shrub dominance on the Tibetan Plateau

Katja GeisslerA,G, Sebastian FiedlerA,B,C, Jian NiD, Ulrike HerzschuhE,F and Florian JeltschA,C

– Author Affiliations

AUniversität Potsdam, Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation, Am Mühlenberg 3, 14476 Potsdam, Germany.

BFreie Universität Berlin, Biodiversity/Theoretical Ecology, Institute of Biology, Altensteinstr. 34, 14195 Berlin, Germany.

CBerlin-Brandenburg Institute of Advanced Biodiversity Research (BBIB), 14195 Berlin, Germany.

DCollege of Chemistry and Life Sciences, Zhejiang Normal University, Yingbin Avenue 688, 321004 Jinhua, China.

EAlfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Telegrafenberg A43, 14473 Potsdam, Germany.

FUniversity of Potsdam, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 24-25, 14476 Potsdam, Germany.

GCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(5) 425–439
Submitted: 7 May 2019  Accepted: 4 November 2019  Published: 20 December 2019


Encroachment of shrubs into the unique pastoral grassland ecosystems of the Tibetan Plateau has significant impact on ecosystem services, especially forage production. We developed a process-based ecohydrological model to identify the relative importance of the main drivers of shrub encroachment for the alpine meadows within the Qinghai province. Specifically, we explored the effects of summer livestock grazing (intensity and type of livestock) together with the effects of climate warming, including interactions between herbaceous and woody vegetation and feedback loops between soil, water and vegetation. Under current climatic conditions and a traditional herd composition, an increasing grazing intensity above a threshold value of 0.32 ± 0.10 large stock units (LSU) ha–1 day–1 changes the vegetation composition from herbaceous towards a woody and bare soil dominated system. Very high grazing intensity (above 0.8 LSU ha–1 day–1) leads to a complete loss of any vegetation. Under warmer conditions, the vegetation showed a higher resilience against livestock farming. This resilience is enhanced when the herd has a higher browser : grazer ratio. A cooler climate has a shrub encroaching effect, whereas warmer conditions increase the cover of the herbaceous vegetation. This effect was primarily due to season length and an accompanied competitive loss of slower growing shrubs, rather than evaporative water loss leading to less soil water in deeper soil layers for deeper rooting shrubs. If climate warming is driving current shrub encroachment, we conclude it is only indirectly so. It would be manifest by an advancing shrubline and could be regarded as a climatic escape of specific shrub species such as Potentilla fruticosa. Under the recent high intensity of grazing, only herding by more browsing animals can potentially prevent both shrub encroachment and the complete loss of herbaceous vegetation.

Additional keywords: alpine grassland degradation, herd composition, rangeland management, shrub encroachment, shrubline, simulation model.


Optimising cattle grazing distribution on rangeland: a systematic review and network analysis

Maggie L. CreamerA,D, Leslie M. RocheB, Kristina M. HorbackA and Tina L. SaitoneC

– Author Affiliations

ADepartment of Animal Sciences; University of California, Davis, 1 Shield Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

BDepartment of Plant Sciences; University of California, Davis, 1 Shield Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

CDepartment of Agricultural and Resource Economics; University of California, Davis, 1 Shield Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

DCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(5) 441–455
Submitted: 21 August 2019  Accepted: 9 December 2019  Published: 20 December 2019


Optimising beef cattle (Bos taurus and Bos indicus) distribution, both spatially and temporally, is one of the most significant challenges associated with managing extensive grazed rangelands. Landscape variability and behavioural patterns of cattle may lead to non-uniform and inefficient forage utilisation, damage to critical habitats, and water quality impairment. In order to overcome these distribution challenges, a large suite of tools have been developed and researched to optimise grazing patterns. The objectives of this synthesis paper are 2-fold: (i) to survey and categorise distribution tools; and (ii) to analyse the connectivity of existing research across academic disciplines to identify and isolate knowledge gaps. A systematic literature review revealed specific types of tools and strategies to improve cattle distribution, which were categorised as either ‘animal’ or ‘environmental manipulations’. Animal manipulations utilise aspects of individual behaviour and herd dynamics to alter grazing patterns, whereas environmental manipulations involve transforming aspects of the animal’s surroundings to overcome challenges associated with inefficient distribution. This review reveals that strategies are overwhelmingly studied in isolation, and that there is potential to increase efficacy by integrating multiple strategies to achieve a desired outcome. Motivated by these findings, an author collaboration network analysis was conducted to investigate connectivity within and among author fields of expertise to understand why more integrated management strategies are not currently studied. Authors were classified into five fields of research: animal behaviour science, animal production science, biophysical rangeland science, economics, and other. The network analysis revealed that communities of authors contributing to papers on enhancing cattle distribution are disjointed. These results suggest that in order to fulfil knowledge gaps about the efficacy and cost of management strategies, there needs to be interdisciplinary engagement with particular attention to strategies that integrate animal and environmental manipulations to enhance cattle grazing distribution on extensively grazed landscapes.

Additional keywords: authorship, beef, behaviour, collaboration, economics, interdisciplinary, management, production.

The Rangeland Journal Vol. 41 (4) September, 2019


Decline in body condition and high drought mortality limit the spread of wild chital deer in north-east Queensland, Australia

Kurt WatterA,C, Greg BaxterA, Michael BrennanB, Anthony PopleB and Peter MurrayA

– Author Affiliations

ASchool of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, Gatton Campus, Qld 4343, Australia.

BBiosecurity Queensland, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, 41 Boggo Rd, Dutton Park, Qld 4102, Australia.

CCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(4) 293–299
Submitted: 26 November 2018  Accepted: 17 June 2019   Published: 10 August 2019


Chital deer (Axis axis) were introduced to the Burdekin district of northern Queensland, Australia in 1886. Compared with most successful ungulate introductions they have been slow to expand their distribution and increase in abundance (Moriarty 2004). In this study we consider the possibility that forage shortages caused by periodic droughts have caused sufficient mortalities to limit the increase and spread of chital in the region. The Burdekin district experiences fluctuations in forage according to seasonal rainfall as well as multi-year droughts. This study recorded the decline in body condition, measured as kidney fat index (KFI) and bone marrow fat (BMF), over the wet and dry seasons of two successive years in two chital deer populations during a period when annual rainfall was ~40% below average. We relate the falls in mean KFI from ~45–15%, and mean BMF from ~80–50% to the surveyed decline in chital populations of ~80%. The extent of the decline implies increased mortalities in all age classes as well as reduced reproductive output. We propose that it is likely that chital populations have experienced several such drought mortality events since the 1890s which have contributed to their limited spread.

 Additional keywords: Axis axis, bone marrow fat, kidney fat index.


Disturbance by grazing and the presence of rodents facilitates the dominance of the unpalatable grass Achnatherum inebrians in alpine meadows of northern China

Xiang YaoA, Qing ChaiA, Taixiang ChenA, Zhenjiang ChenA, Xuekai WeiA, Gensheng BaoB, Meiling SongB, Wanrong WeiA, Xingxu ZhangA, Chunjie LiA,C and Zhibiao NanA

– Author Affiliations

AState Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-ecosystems, Key Laboratory of Grassland Livestock Industry Innovation, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Engineering Research Center of Grassland Industry, Ministry of Education, College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730020, China.

BState Key Laboratory of Plateau Ecology and Agriculture, Qinghai University, Qinghai Academy of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Xining 810016, Qinghai, China.

CCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(4) 301–312
Submitted: 19 October 2018  Accepted: 6 July 2019   Published: 16 September 2019


Unpalatable plants reportedly serve as a biodiversity refuge. However, few studies have been conducted to evaluate how unpalatable plants impact vegetation composition in alpine ecosystems. In the present study we investigated alpine meadows at four sites in four different prefectures on the eastern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau of Qinghai Province, China. The study sites included meadows grazed by livestock (AO) and others in the vicinity colonised by the unpalatable grass, Achnatherum inebrians (AI), which the livestock avoided. The results showed: (1) palatable graminoid species were significantly different in the two groups: AO plots were dominated by Kobresia spp. (sedges), whereas AI plots were dominated by Poa pratensis and Elymus nutans (grasses); (2) graminoid diversity was significantly higher in AI than in AO plots; (3) grasses had significantly more seeds in AI than in AO plots. We suggest a three-step process for the invasion of A. inebrians into overgrazed alpine meadows in Northern China. First, soil is disturbed by rodents. Second, disturbed soil is invaded by A. inebrians. Third, the A. inebrians community is colonised by palatable grasses such as Elymus, Poa, Leymus and Stipa spp.

Additional keywords: bunchgrass, endophyte, exposed soil, refuge effect.


Covariation in root traits of Leymus chinensis in response to grazing in steppe rangeland

Wei XiaotingA, Zhong MengyingA, Liu YuehuaA, Wu RuixinB and Shao XinqingA,C

– Author Affiliations

ADepartment of Grassland Science, College of Animal Science and Technology, China, Agricultural University, Beijing, 100193, China.

BDryland Farming Institute, Hebei Key Laboratory of Crops Drought Resistance, Hengshui, 053000, China.

CCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(4) 313–322
Submitted: 27 October 2018  Accepted: 7 May 2019   Published: 14 June 2019


Root traits are closely related to nutrient absorption, resource competition and can even influence plant recovery and community succession. Grazing can influence root traits directly through trampling and foraging, or indirectly by changing soil characters. In the present study, a grazing experiment that involved combinations of grazing season (from June to September) and intensity (rest, moderate and heavy) was conducted in steppe rangeland, Inner Mongolia, China to investigate how the root traits of Leymus chinensis respond to different grazing regimes in the case of aboveground miniaturisation after long-term overgrazing. Root traits such as root length, root surface area, specific root length, root tissue density, root links and root topological structure were scanned and analysed using Win RHIZO image analysis software. The results showed that the size of L. chinensis was reduced in response to overgrazing, typically by a lower plant height, total root length (TL), root surface area, root volume, number of tips and number of links (NL, where a link is an unbranched part of a root that connects between either a tip and a branching point or two branching points). However, root diameter and link length, branching angle and topological structure (root structure may either be herringbone or dichotomous) were unaffected by grazing. Most root traits showed strong correlations under moderate grazing intensity, but not under heavy grazing, indicating that grazing changed the relationships among root traits. Relationships between plant height and root traits (total root length and number of links) shifted from positive to negative as grazing intensity increased, and the trade-off between aboveground and belowground traits was an important adaptive strategy of L. chinensis under heavy grazing. Decreasing grazing intensity in the late grazing season could benefit plant recovery, and a rest in the early grazing season would mitigate the damage of root and shoot.

Additional keywords: plant height, root tissue density, root topology structure, specific root length.


Impact of forage introduction on cattle grazing practices and crop–livestock systems: a case study in an upland village in northern Laos

Khamphou PhouyyavongA,B,D, Shinsuke TomitaC and Satoshi YokoyamaA

– Author Affiliations

AGraduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Environmental Studies Building, Furo-cho 510, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 4648601, Japan.

BNational Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute.

CAsian Satellite Campuses Institute, Nagoya University Furo-cho, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya, 464-8601, Japan.

DCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(4) 323–334
Submitted: 1 November 2018  Accepted: 19 May 2019  Published: 10 August 2019


Lao smallholders are experiencing livestock grazing land constraints due to resettlement, increasing cattle numbers and commercial cash crop plantations. In this paper we describe changes in cattle grazing systems in an upland village in northern Laos, including the role of forage crops and their effects on cattle productivity. We interviewed 92 Hmong and Khmu households about their migration history, cattle grazing practices, cattle productivity and other livelihood activities. In addition, we measured the heart girths of 231 cattle. We found that the traditional free-range cattle grazing has diverged into three distinct systems incorporating fields fenced to different degrees. Although none of the three systems increased cattle body size, the forage pasture and swidden-farming system successfully increased the grazing capacity compared with other systems. Thus, this method appeared to be the most suitable for Hmong smallholders to manage crop and cattle production in the context of land constraints. Efforts should be made to examine how the newly implemented systems could attenuate villager livelihood and pre-emptively address the problems associated with degrading fallow land.

Additional keywords: crop–livestock system, forage, land use, rotational grazing, swidden farming.


Quantitatively assessing the effects of climate change and human activities on ecosystem degradation and restoration in southwest China

  1. G. SunA,F, J. S. WuB, F. LiuA, T. Y. ShaoC, X. B. LiuA, Y. Z. ChenD, X. H. LongC and
  2. RengelE

– Author Affiliations

ACollege of Agro-grassland Science, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210 095, People’s Republic of China.

BInstitute of Environment and Sustainable Development in Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), 100 081 Beijing, China.

CJiangsu Provincial Key Laboratory of Marine Biology, College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210 095, PR China.

DCollege of Biology and the Environment, Nanjing Forestry University, Nanjing 210 037, PR China.

ESoil Science and Plant Nutrition, School of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth, WA 6009, Australia.

FCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(4) 335–344
Submitted: 19 November 2018  Accepted: 5 August 2019  Published: 5 September 2019


Identifying the effects of climate change and human activities on the degradation and restoration of terrestrial ecosystems is essential for sustainable management of these ecosystems. However, our knowledge of methodology on this topic is limited. To assess the relative contribution of climate change and human activities, actual and potential net primary productivity (NPPa and NPPp respectively), and human appropriation of net primary productivity (HANPP) were calculated and applied to the monitoring of forest, grassland, and cropland ecosystems in Yunnan–Guizhou–Sichuan Provinces, southwest China. We determined annual means of 476 g C m–2 year–1 for NPPa, 1314 g C m–2 year–1 for NPPp, and 849 g C m–2 year–1 for HANPP during the period between 2007 and 2016. Furthermore, the area with an increasing NPPa accounted for 75.12% of the total area of the three ecosystems. Similarly, the areas with increasing NPPp and HANPP accounted for 77.60 and 57.58% of the study area respectively. Furthermore, we found that ~57.58% of areas with ecosystem restored was due to climate change, 23.39% due to human activities, and 19.03% due to the combined effects of human activities and climate change. In contrast, climate change and human activities contributed to 19.47 and 76.36%, respectively, of the areas of degraded ecosystem. Only 4.17% of degraded ecosystem could be attributed to the combined influences of climate change and human activities. We conclude that human activities were mainly responsible for ecosystem degradation, whereas climate change benefitted ecosystem restoration in southwest China in the past decade.

Additional keywords: human appropriation of net primary productivity (HANPP), net primary productivity (NPP), productivity model, terrestrial degradation, terrestrial restoration, Yunnan–Guizhou–Sichuan Provinces, spatial distribution.


Vegetative reproduction and root anatomy of Solanum centrale J.M.Black (Australian bush tomato)

  1. L. PattisonA,B,E, L. W. BurgessA, T. L. BellA and M. H. RyderB,C,D

– Author Affiliations

AFaculty of Science, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

BDesert Knowledge CRC, PO Box 3971, Alice Springs, NT 0871, Australia.

CCSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, PMB 2, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia.

DPresent address: School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, University of Adelaide, PMB 1 Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia.

ECorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(4) 345–354
Submitted: 14 March 2019  Accepted: 9 July 2019  Published: 16 September 2019


The aim of this study was to describe the morphology, anatomy and function of underground structures associated with colonies of Solanum centrale J.M.Black (Australian bush tomato), a perennial sub-shrub found in arid areas of Australia and an important traditional staple food for Aboriginal people. It is known that this species forms clonal communities, but there is little understanding of the mechanisms of formation in either natural or cultivated situations. The underground connections within seven clonal communities from Central and South Australia were documented and samples of secondary roots, thick lateral roots and stems were examined under both laboratory and glasshouse conditions. Clonal communities were observed at all sites with individual ramets arising from lateral roots (root-suckers) that ranged from 2–10 mm in diameter growing in a network 5–15 cm below the soil surface. Lateral roots have dicotyledonous root anatomy and rapidly resprout to form new clonal ramets. They also have the capacity to accumulate starch in parenchyma cells. The morphology and root-suckering ability resemble those of weedy Solanum spp. from other parts of the world, as well as species from a variety of genera adapted to arid climates. Methods to capitalise on the ability of lateral roots to form clonal ramets in cultivated situations, particularly given the difficulties in establishing crops from seed, are discussed.

Additional keywords: Aboriginal, clonal, domestication, germination, Indigenous, native food. online land cover analysis for the Australian rangelands

Terrence S. BeutelA,B, Rebecca TrevithickB, Peter ScarthB and Dan TindallB

– Author Affiliations

ADepartment of Agriculture and Fisheries, PO Box 6014, Red Hill, Rockhampton, Qld 4701, Australia.

BDepartment of Environment and Science, GPO Box 2454, Brisbane, Qld 4001, Australia.

CCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(4) 355–362
Submitted: 18 March 2019  Accepted: 27 May 2019  Published: 5 August 2019


This paper documents the development and use of the land cover monitoring tool. From 2002 to 2015, VegMachine® software was used by government agencies, natural resource management (NRM) groups and individual pastoralists in northern Australia to assess and benchmark vegetation cover levels. In 2016 the website was launched to build a wider user base and assure service continuity. Users can now graph historical (1990–) cover on one or more user defined areas of interest (AOI), produce comprehensive paddock-by-paddock property monitoring reports, and view a range of land cover raster images through the website map panel. In its first 32 months of operation 913 users logged 1604 sessions on the website and more than 1000 of the website’s most comprehensive monitoring reports were distributed to users. Levels of use varied; 26% of users (n = 237) have used the website more than once, and within this group a smaller set of regular users (n = 36) have used the site more than five times, in many cases to provide analyses to multiple clients. We outline four case studies that document the significant impact has had on users including graziers, government agencies, NRM groups and researchers. We also discuss some possible paths forward that could widen the user base and improve retention of first time users.

Additional keywords: environmental change, grazing pressure, land management, rangeland health, rangeland management, remote sensing.


Beneficial land sector change in far northern Australia is required and possible – a refutation of McLean and Holmes (2019)

Jeremy Russell-SmithA,B and Kamaljit K. SanghaA

– Author Affiliations

ADarwin Centre for Bushfire Research, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0909, Australia.

BCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(4) 363–369
Submitted: 14 May 2019  Accepted: 23 July 2019  Published: 16 September 2019


In a recent paper we set out a case for extending current and emerging ecosystem services enterprise opportunities to support sustainable land sector development in far northern Australia (Russell-Smith and Sangha 2018: The Rangeland Journal 40, 315–330. doi:10.1071/RJ18005). In that paper we illustrate very significant economic viability and environmental sustainability issues associated with the current dominant land use, the extensive rangeland beef cattle industry. Our beef enterprise economic assessments drew heavily on reports by Ian McLean, Phil Holmes and colleagues, as well as various other authoritative studies. In a detailed response, McLean and Holmes outline their concerns that, in various instances, we misrepresented their data and that our assessment ‘does not accurately portray the economic performance and contribution of the pastoral sector in northern Australia, nor justify the conclusion that fundamental land sector change is required’ (Comment by McLean and Holmes 2019: The Rangeland Journal, 41, 157–160. doi:10.1071/RJ18098). We acknowledge the singular contributions of those authors for our understanding of the enterprise characteristics and challenges faced by northern beef producers, but further, we: (a) for context, demonstrate the magnitude of the economic and sustainability challenges faced by the majority of northern beef producers as described in a range of pertinent studies including their own; (b) provide a detailed refutation of all eight of their listed concerns; and (c) conclude that available evidence does in fact strongly support the need for exploring diversified enterprise opportunities towards developing a sustainable and inclusive far northern land sector.

Additional keywords: ecosystem services, land use, northern development, pastoral enterprise, rangelands.



The Rangeland Journal Vol. 41 (3) July 2019 Special Issue


Rangelands in transition

Russ SinclairA,C, and Martin AndrewB,C

– Author Affiliations

ASchool of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.

BMartin Andrew Solutions, 132 Kensington Road, Toorak Gardens, SA 5065, Australia.

CCorresponding authors. Email:;

The Rangeland Journal 41(3) 161–163
Submitted: 7 July 2019  Accepted: 8 July 2019   Published: 23 July 2019



Value of seasonal climate forecasts in reducing economic losses for grazing enterprises: Charters Towers case study

Duc-Anh An-VoA,B,C, Kate Reardon-SmithA,C,D, Shahbaz MushtaqA,C, David CobonA,C,

Shreevatsa KodurC and Roger StoneA,C


– Author Affiliations

AUniversity of Southern Queensland, Centre for Applied Climate Sciences, Darling Heights, Toowoomba, Qld 4350, Australia.

BUniversity of Southern Queensland, Institute for Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences, Toowoomba, Qld 4350, Australia.

CUniversity of Southern Queensland, Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment, Toowoomba, Qld 4350, Australia.

DCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(3) 165–175
Submitted: 23 January 2018  Accepted: 29 May 2019   Published: 11 July 2019


Seasonal climate forecasts (SCFs) have the potential to improve productivity and profitability in agricultural industries, but are often underutilised due to insufficient evidence of the economic value of forecasts and uncertainty about their reliability. In this study we developed a bio-economic model of forecast use, explicitly incorporating forecast uncertainty. Using agricultural systems (ag-systems) production simulation software calibrated with case study information, we simulated pasture growth, herd dynamics and annual economic returns under different climatic conditions. We then employed a regret and value function approach to quantify the potential economic value of using SCFs (at both current and improved accuracy levels) in decision making for a grazing enterprise in north-eastern Queensland, Australia – a region subject to significant seasonal and intra-decadal climate variability. Applying an expected utility economic modelling approach, we show that skilled SCF systems can contribute considerable value to farm level decision making. At the current SCF skill of 62% (derived by correlating the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) signal and historical climate data) at Charters Towers, an average annual forecast value of AU$4420 (4.25%) was realised for the case study average annual net profit of AU$104000, while a perfect (no regret) forecast system could result in an increased return of AU$13475 per annum (13% of the case study average annual net profit). Continued improvements in the skill and reliability of SCFs is likely to both increase the value of SCFs to agriculture and drive wider uptake of climate forecasts in on-farm decision making. We also anticipate that an integrated framework, such as that developed in this study, may provide a pathway for better communication with end users to support improved understanding and use of forecasts in agricultural decision making and enhanced sustainability of agricultural enterprises.


Additional keywords: economic value, grazing management, productivity, profitability, seasonal climate forecast, uncertainty.


Social return on investment: application for an Indigenous rangelands context

Leah FeuerherdtA, Stuart PeevorB, Michael ClinchC and Tim MooreA,D

– Author Affiliations

ANatural Resources Alinytjara Wilurara, Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, 81 Waymouth St, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.

BEIB Consulting, 13 Kalyan Road, Glandore, SA 5037, Australia.

CAnangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Pastoral, PMB 227 Umuwa via Alice Springs, NT 0872, Australia.

DAustralian Integrated Carbon, Level 15/ 25 Bligh St, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia.

ECorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(3) 177-183
Submitted: 19 February 2018  Accepted: 28 August 2018  Published: 1 November 2018


Social Return on Investment (SROI) is an internationally recognised methodology used to measure and value the economic impact of program outcomes. Like a traditional cost-benefit analysis, SROI examines economic outcomes, but also includes the social, environmental and cultural outcomes created by the investment. These outcomes are evaluated against their cost, using financial proxies to estimate their relative economic worth. SROI is particularly valuable in the indigenous natural resource management context, because of the strong ‘value’ or importance of non-economic (particularly cultural) costs and benefits.

The Alinytjara Wilurara Natural Resources Management Board undertook a study of the economic, social, environmental and cultural impacts and benefits of the presence of large feral herbivores in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, in the far north-west of South Australia. Camels, donkeys and horses present significant impacts for the community in terms of vehicle collisions, community health, damage to infrastructure and water pollution, as well as impacts on sites of cultural and spiritual significance to the local communities. With the annual cost impacts incurred by society caused by large feral herbivores in the APY lands valued at $4.2 million and possible dollar value of those animals valued at $140 000, the study found that there was a net cost impact of ~$4 million from not managing the impact of these animals. The study also found significant cultural impacts of large feral herbivores, such as the fouling of natural springs and other culturally sensitive sites, and further analysis would be required to determine the economic cost of these impacts. Investment models that consider a broad range of costs and benefits are considered necessary for Australian rangelands, particularly Indigenous-owned land.

This paper presents a case study of the development of a ranger program that employs local community members to manage the impacts of large feral herbivores that will provide a net benefit to society of ~$3 million every year, aside from the additional benefits of employment and economic participation. The $3-million net benefit accrues from saving human lives and costs associated with vehicle accidents, and reduced management costs and increased income for pastoral areas of the APY Lands. APY community members, and the APY Pastoral business are core beneficiaries; however, there are several external beneficiaries that this SROI approach recognises including the Motor Accident Commission, Health Departments and South Australian Police. The strongly positive SROI in this case presents an excellent co-investment opportunity for agencies whose core focus is on road safety and health. Importantly, the SROI approach to creation of social value can be implemented in a way that is consistent with stated community aspirations for development.

Additional keywords: feral animals, greenhouse gas, pastoralism.


Ninety years of change on the TGB Osborn Vegetation Reserve, Koonamore: a unique research opportunity

  1. SinclairA,B and Jose M. FacelliA

– Author Affiliations

ASchool of Biological Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.

BCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(3) 185–187
Submitted: 26 February 2018  Accepted: 25 August 2018  Published: 31 October 2018


The TGB Osborn Vegetation Reserve, on Koonamore station in the NE pastoral area of South Australia, is the longest-running vegetation monitoring project of its type in Australia. In 1925, a 4-km2 rectangle in a heavily overgrazed area was fenced to exclude rabbits and sheep, and permanent quadrats and photo-points set up to record changes. The area is predominantly chenopod shrubland, with an open woodland tree layer. After the initial elimination of rabbits, control slackened and rabbit numbers increased until the 1970s, when intense elimination efforts resumed, together with the arrival of myxomatosis and rabbit haemorrhagic disease viruses. Consequently, the reserve has had 50 years without sheep, followed by 40 years virtually without either sheep or rabbits. Changes over that time have been very striking, and they have been recorded regularly via mapped quadrats and photopoints.

The objective of this paper is to highlight opportunities for making use of this database for researching several interesting ecological questions.

Additional keywords: grazing pressure, long-term monitoring, rabbits, sheep.


An uncertain future: climate resilience of first-generation ranchers

Kate Munden-DixonA,D, Kenneth TateB, Bethany CuttsC and Leslie RocheB

– Author Affiliations

AGeography Graduate Group, University of California Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

BDepartment of Plant Sciences, University of California Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

CDepartment of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA.

DCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(3) 189–196
Submitted: 1 March 2018  Accepted: 11 August 2018  Published: 10 September 2018


Policymakers and scholars agree that the aging and declining number of ranchers is a serious problem for the future of ranching and range management. Studies show that recruiting and retaining new ranchers is difficult due to a complex mix of start-up costs, knowledge and skill requirements, and regulatory barriers. While research suggests that first-generation farmers are different demographically and require individualised information, there is limited research on first-generation ranchers (FGRs); at best they are generalised as beginning farmers in research and outreach programs. This is surprising given ranchers’ unique knowledge requirements relating to the production of food and fibre, and the management of vast areas of public and private land. Based on a rangeland decision-making survey of 507 California Cattlemen’s Association members, this paper examines similarities and divergences in socioeconomic factors, management practices, drought adaptation strategies, information needs, and values between FGRs and multigenerational ranchers (MGRs). Survey results indicate FGRs and MGRs are not statistically different demographically and have similar values; however, key differences include FGRs using fewer information sources about ranching, fewer general management practices, and fewer drought adaptation practices. FGRs are also more susceptible to drought, and are underserved by organisations. Their vulnerability is particularly concerning, as many have limited drought experience, are more likely to take risks, and are less likely to find value and/or participate in ranching organisations. The future of rangelands requires that organisations interested in conserving rangelands and supporting ranchers re-evaluate assumptions about why FGRs and MGRs have different information needs beyond simplistic demographic identity, and instead focus on their affinity as FGRs in order to understand the complexity of the processes underlying these differences. We end with suggestions for a research agenda to support the climate resiliency of FGRs and increase the efficacy of support organisations.


Additional keywords: climate change and adaptation, resilience of rangeland systems, socioecological systems, rangeland management.


‘This country just hangs tight’: perspectives on managing land degradation and climate change in far west NSW


Emily BerryA,D, Graciela MetternichtB and Alex BaumberC


– Author Affiliations

ASchool of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, UNSW Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

BSchool of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, PANGEA Centre, UNSW Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

CFaculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation, University of Technology Sydney, NSW 2007, Australia.

DCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(3) 197–210
Submitted: 12 March 2018  Accepted: 8 October 2018  Published: 27 November 2018


Discussions of land degradation often display a disconnect between global and local scales. Although global-scale discussions often focus on measuring and reversing land degradation through metrics and policy measures, local-scale discussions can highlight a diversity of viewpoints and the importance of local knowledge and context-specific strategies for sustainable land management. Similarly, although scientific studies clearly link anthropogenic climate change to land degradation as both cause and consequence, the connection may not be so clear for local rangelands communities due to the complex temporal and spatial scales of change and management in such environments.

In research conducted in October 2015, we interviewed 18 stakeholders in the far west of New South Wales about their perspectives on sustainable land management. The results revealed highly variable views on what constitutes land degradation, its causes and appropriate responses. For the pastoral land managers, the most important sign of good land management was the maintenance of groundcover, through the management of total grazing pressure. Participants viewed overgrazing as a contributor to land degradation in some cases and they identified episodes of land degradation in the region. However, other more contentious factors were also highlighted, such as wind erosion, grazing by goats and kangaroos and the spread of undesired ‘invasive native scrub’ at the expense of more desirable pasture, and alternative views that these can offer productive benefits.

Although few participants were concerned about anthropogenic climate change, many described their rangeland management styles as adaptive to the fluctuations of the climate, regardless of the reasons for these variations. Rather than focusing on whether landholders ‘believe in’ climate change or agree on common definitions or measurement approaches for land degradation, these results suggest that their culture of adaptation may provide a strong basis for coping with an uncertain future. The culture of adaption developed through managing land in a highly variable climate may help even if the specific conditions that landholders need to adapt to are unlike those experienced in living memory. Such an approach requires scientific and expert knowledge to be integrated alongside the context-specific knowledge, values and existing management strategies of local stakeholders.

Additional keywords: adaptation, climate change and adaptation, environmental change, social-ecological systems, rangeland management.


Evaluating the potential financial contributions of carbon farming to grazing enterprises in Western NSW


Geoff CockfieldA,B,D, Uttam ShresthaA and Cathy WatersC


– Author Affiliations

ACentre for Sustainable Agricultural Systems, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Qld 4350, Australia.

BSchool of Commerce, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Qld 4350, Australia.

CClimate Research, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Orange, NSW 2800, Australia.

DCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(3) 211–223
Submitted: 16 March 2018  Accepted: 19 February 2019  Published: 5 April 2019


This article reports on modelling of the farm-level financial implications of changing land use from rangelands grazing to ‘carbon farming’ (vegetation-based carbon sequestration) in north-western New South Wales, Australia. Four model farm businesses were created by combining information from existing carbon projects funded under the Australian Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), data from surveys of farm businesses in the study regions and biomass estimations from the pasture growth model, GRASP. Scenarios for each of the businesses were: baseline (current grazing system); clearing vegetation to increase carrying capacity; establishing a carbon project; and establishing a carbon project and reinvesting some of the additional income in exclusion fencing to increase carrying capacity on non-project areas. The carbon project scenarios were based on either of two approved carbon sequestration methodologies within the ERF: avoided deforestation; and human-induced regeneration. In comparing the financial outcomes of these scenarios across the modelled businesses, we found potential advantages for landholders in having projects where livestock carrying capacity was at medium to low levels for the study region and where woody vegetation biomass potential was medium to high for the region. The case for sequestration projects on land with higher carrying capacity and therefore higher opportunity cost was much less compelling. In most cases, reinvestment in exclusion fencing resulted in similar financial returns to just having a carbon project but farm business income increased in later years.

Additional keywords: exclusion fencing, farm business income, greenhouse gas emissions, livestock production, payments for environmental services.


Long Paddock: climate risk and grazing information for Australian rangelands and grazing communities

  1. StoneA,B, R. Dalla PozzaA, J. CarterA and G. McKeonA



– Author Affiliations


AQueensland Government, Environment and Science, GPO Box 2454, Brisbane, Qld 4001, Australia.

BCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(3) 225–232
Submitted: 22 March 2018  Accepted: 23 January 2019   Published: 7 March 2019


The Queensland Government’s Long Paddock website has been redeveloped on Amazon Web Services cloud computing platform, to provide Australian rangelands and grazing communities (i.e. rural landholders, managers, pastoralists (graziers), researchers, advisors, students, consultants and extension providers) with easier access to seasonal climate and pasture condition information. The website provides free, tailored information and services to support management decisions to maximise productivity, while maintaining the natural resource base. For example, historical rainfall and pasture analyses (i.e. maps, posters and data) have been developed to assist in communicating the risk of multi-year droughts that are a feature of Queensland’s highly variable climate.

Additional keywords: carrying capacity, climate, decision support tools, extension, grazing.


Looking beyond the D.U.S.T. – building resilient rangeland communities

Dana KellyA,C and David PhelpsB


– Author Affiliations

ADana Kelly Consulting, PO Box 4868, Toowoomba East, Qld 4350, Australia.

BChair Western Queensland Drought Committee (WQDC), PO Box 496, Longreach, Qld 4730, Australia.

CCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(3) 233–250
Submitted: 21 April 2018  Accepted: 1 February 2019   Published: 26 April 2019


The role of towns and small business is poorly understood, yet towns are vital for the long-term viability of communities in rural and remote Australia.

This case study in the central western region of Queensland (CWQ) examines the impacts of drought on rural towns and how to build a resilient regional community and alleviate hardship. Evidence was collected during drought from town businesses through surveys, interviews and a public meeting in 2017.

Towns in CWQ are especially exposed to the risks of drought, as approximately half of the businesses are directly linked to agriculture. Townspeople are major contributors to social cohesion and resilience in rural and regional communities, which are often service and maintenance centres of nationally important infrastructure such as roads for inter-state freight transport and tourism. Drought and declining grazier incomes have led to reduced spending in towns. Populations have dropped sharply, as itinerant agricultural workers leave the region. The complex economic and social flow-on impacts of drought have resulted in lower socioeconomic resilience. The majority of community members interviewed expressed a desire to build secure livelihoods, which echoes other research where existing and new rangelands livelihoods are seen as contributing to the success of the nation, a common global desire. Local organisations in CWQ display innovative business and community strategies. Future actions need to support and build on these initiatives.

A framework with the acronym D.U.S.T. has been developed, with associated actions aimed at building resilience in these communities. D.U.S.T. is appropriate for this often-dusty region, and stands for: D. Decide to act; U. Understand the context; S. Support and develop local capacities and institutions; and T. Transform regional governance.

The key for decision-makers is to work with local people who understand the contextual complexity and local needs. Actions need to be based on principles of adaptability, equity and inclusiveness, and working with the whole of the community. Building on existing collaborations and innovations as well as transforming governance and secure funding arrangements are needed. Lessons from the communities in CWQ may help other rural and remote regions build resilience to cope with the unpredictable financial, social and environmental future.

Additional keywords: drought, collaboration, engaged governance, rural towns, transformation.


Overcoming drought vulnerability in rangeland communities: lessons from central-western Queensland

David PhelpsA,C and Dana KellyB


– Author Affiliations

ADepartment of Agriculture and Fisheries, Longreach, Qld 4730, Australia.

BDana Kelly Consulting, PO Box 4868, Toowoomba East, Qld 4350, Australia.

CCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(3) 251–270
Submitted: 1 May 2018  Accepted: 8 June 2019   Published: 23 July 2019


Drought and climate variability are an increasing global problem, especially in rangelands which may lack robust socioeconomic systems. Vulnerability is being applied in drought and climate change policy theory, by describing exposure and sensitivity factors, and adaptive capacity. In this paper we examine these vulnerability factors in central-western Queensland (CWQ), Australia, as a case study to test the idea that vulnerability and resilience must be considered together to build strong and enduring rangeland communities. The region’s economy and employment are strongly coupled with rain-fed agriculture. Drought is a key risk to CWQ communities, with 13 extended droughts recorded since 1898. The region has been officially in drought since 2013 following well below-average rainfall, and remains in drought in 2019. The impact has led to reductions in town business turnover of 30–60%, loss of livelihoods and outmigration of 20%. Outmigration corresponds to the recent periods of drought. Social networks have been destabilised, highlighting that the cascading impacts of drought are complex, interrelated and affect the whole community. Regionally led responses have helped to re-build social cohesion, provide mental health support and stimulate economic activity and employment. These actions provide examples of a systemic, whole-of-community approach, that (1) captures place-based advantages; (2) enhances internal and external socioeconomic networks; (3) engages meaningfully through multi-level consultation; and (4) seeks to build sustained financial investment. A common theme of success is partnerships which provide external support for regionally-identified issues and solutions. There has been considerable investment of public, philanthropic and private funds in drought relief and infrastructure programs. This has occurred through a whole-of-community approach, and suggests a move towards policy which aims to build long-term regional resilience. CWQ has linked vulnerability and resilience by asking of both internally and externally led drought relief ‘will this action build or undermine community resilience’. This approach could also be applied to the design of drought policies and responses in other rangeland regions.

Additional keywords: adaptation, pastoralist, resilience, regional policy, rural communities, small business.


Australian rangeland futures: time now for systemic responses to interconnected challenges


Barney ForanA,H, Mark Stafford SmithB, Don BurnsideC, Martin AndrewD, Don BlesingE, Kate ForrestF and John TaylorG


– Author Affiliations

AInstitute of Land Water and Society, Charles Sturt University, PO Box 789, Albury, NSW 2640, Australia.

BCSIRO Land and Water, PO Box 1700, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

CD.G. Burnside & Associates, 29 Woodsome Street, Mount Lawley, WA 6050, Australia.

DMartin Andrew Solutions, 132 Kensington Road, Toorak Gardens, SA 5065, Australia.

EAgri-Vision Advisory, PO Box 149, Kent Town, SA 5067, Australia.

FRangeland NRM Alliance, 92 Galah St, Longreach, Qld 4730, Australia.

GRangelands Australia, 37 Pioneer Crescent, Bellbowrie, Qld 4070, Australia.

HCorresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 41(3) 271–292
Submitted: 12 November 2018  Accepted: 19 June 2019   Published: 19 July 2019


Australia’s rangelands contain wildlands, relatively intact biodiversity, widespread Indigenous cultures, pastoral and mining industries all set in past and present events and mythologies. The nature of risks and threats to these rangelands is increasingly global and systemic. Future policy frameworks must acknowledge this and act accordingly. We collate current key information on land tenures and land uses, people and domestic livestock in Australian rangelands, and discuss five perspectives on how the rangelands are changing that should inform the development of integrated policy: climate and environmental change, the southern rangelands, the northern rangelands, Indigenous Australia, and governance and management. From these perspectives we argue that more attention must be paid to: ensuring a social licence to operate across a range of uses, acknowledging and supporting a younger more Indigenous population, implementing positive aspects of technological innovation, halting capital and governance leakages, and building human capacity. A recommended set of systemic responses should therefore (i) address governance issues consistently and comprehensively, (ii) ensure that new technologies can foster the delivery of sustainable livelihoods, and (iii) focus capacity building on a community of industries where knowledge is built for the long-term, and do all three of these with an eye to the changing demographics of the rangelands.

Additional keywords: governance, human capacity, Indigenous, livelihoods, remoteness, sustainability.