Implications of rodent and rabbit grazing in the Chihuahuan Desert

TitleImplications of rodent and rabbit grazing in the Chihuahuan Desert
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication1985
AuthorsMatheys DG
Number of Pages35
Date Published1985
UniversityNew Mexico State University
CityLas Cruces, New Mexico
Thesis TypeM.S. Thesispp
Accession NumberJRN00022
Call Number00210
Keywordsdissertation, dissertations, grazing, nitrogen amendment, grazing, rabbit, grazing, rodent, rabbit,grazing, rodent,grazing, theses, thesis, transect, herbivory, transect, nitrogen amendment, transect, rabbit grazing, transect, rodent grazing, transect,rodent & rabbit grazing
AbstractEffects of rodent and rabbit grazing on percent plant cover were examined using a series of 50 exclosed and 50 unexclosed 0.25-m2 plots along two parallel transects in southern New Mexico beginning in May 1984 and ending in March 1985. Excluding rodents and rabbits from experimental plots resulted in significantly more vegetative cover within exclosures. Plots located along a treatment transect which had been fertilized with ammonium nitrate in August 1983 and March 1985 had a greater percentage of vegetative cover than plots along a control transect, both inside and outside the exclosures. Acting as physical barriers, exclosures prevented mammals and ground-dwelling arthropods from consuming and trampling vegetation and from harvesting seeds. No utilization of the vegetation as forage, in addition to a possible seed reserve within exclosed plots, from which germinants could grow, explains the presence of more vegetation within exclosed plots. This study provides a quantitative measure of rodent- and rabbit-grazing effects on vegetative cover, which is a necessary step in the development of a predictive model of the dynamics of desert rodent populations.