Entries in patch burn grazing (1)


Response of herpetofauna to patch burn grazing

There is little information as to how patch burn grazing impacts herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians, hereafter herps). This study was conducted near Nevada, Missouri, to determine how herps responded to fire, cattle grazing, and patch burn grazing. The author hypothesized that fire and cattle grazing would have a negative impact on herps (e.g., reduced species richness, increased patch extinction, greater mortality).


Patches of burn only, graze only, patch burn grazing, and control were established on the landscape for this experiment. Herpetofauna surveys were conducted in 2011 and 2012, before and after patch burn grazing. Additionally, vegetation in two habitat types (aquatic and riparian) and water quality were measured.


The study found that patch burn grazing may increase reptile species richness as this management approach creates a variety of habitat patches across a site. There was no response in the amphibian community to treatments. This study evaluated short term effects of fire and grazing, and continued monitoring would be needed to detect if there were long term positive or negative impacts of patch burn grazing on the reptile and amphibian community.


Management Implications
  • Patch burn grazing increased heterogeneity of landscape, and was associated with increased reptile diversity
  • Burn only treatments did not influence water quality
  • Cattle had a negative impact on water quality, which could lead to negative impacts on amphibian eggs
  • Adult amphibians returned to the same streams to breed despite patch-burn grazing

For further summary of  the study's results and implications for management, view or download a PDF version of the research brief: "Response of herpetofauna to patch burn grazing"

The original paper is:

Larson, Danelle, M. 2014. Grassland fire and cattle grazing regulate reptile and amphibian assembly among patches. Environmental Management 54:1434-1444.