Grazing in complex environments: The details matter

TitleGrazing in complex environments: The details matter
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsBestelmeyer BT, Brown J., Havstad K
Conference NameProceedings of the 1st Annual Quivira Coalition Conference
Date PublishedJanuary 18-19, 2
Conference LocationAlbuquerque, NM
ARIS Log Number144807
AbstractRangeland ecosystems are complex environments. Their physical, biological, economic, and social elements are driven by thousands of variables with millions, if not billions, of interactions. Because our understanding of these systems is incomplete, at best, it has been very difficult to develop predictive models with sufficient precision to describe how these systems will behave in response to management. Within this setting, livestock grazing is a reasonable use on many rangelands, although it may not be appropriate in some environments. The sustainability of livestock grazing in western rangeland environments is dependent upon appropriate management of this activity and requires an understanding of the basic workings of these ecosystems¿of key processes related to soils, plants, and animals. These processes vary with different environments, conditions, annual cycles, histories, production inputs, and other factors. Many of these considerations are subject to variations in space and time. Not all landscapes can be managed alike; good grazing management requires close attention to the details. In order to manage grazing in a truly adaptive and sustainable manner, we need to be able to recognize what is present in a given system, to understand what is possible for that system, and to monitor our effects.