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Extramural Research

Grantee Research Project Results

Grantee Research Project Results

Impacts of Grazing on Riparian Plant Communities

EPA Grant Number: U915792
Title: Impacts of Grazing on Riparian Plant Communities
Investigators: Eggers, Margaret J.
Institution: Montana State University
EPA Project Officer: Jones, Brandon
Project Period: August 1, 2000 through August 1, 2002
Project Amount: $54,815
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2000)
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Fellowship - Ecology



The goal of this research project is to identify and verify grazing indicator plants for riparian vegetation of the northern Great Plains. The hypothesis that such plants exist and are useful to managers in other systems is established.


This research project examines paired riparian areas that are protected from grazing or are heavily grazed, throughout the Montana plains. State fishing access sites provide such sites because they are fenced off (protected from adjacent grazed lands), and permission has been obtained to conduct research at these sites. Through local Fish, Wildlife and Parks and extension agents, permission has been obtained to study plots on grazed lands adjoining these protected sites. For plots in each location, species are listed, percent cover of each species present are measured, and degree of shrub browsing is assessed. Other basic information also is collected, including river classification for that stretch, basic water quality data, precipitation (from existing weather data), elevation, grazing history where available, and soil types (from County Soil Surveys and soil texturing). Initially, 15-20 sites, with both grazed and ungrazed plots, in the Bouteloua gracilis zone along the Yellowstone River in eastern Montana will be studied. If time and funding permit, an additional 15?20 sites in the Agropyron spicatum zone also will be studied.

Expected Results:

This information will be useful in improving both management and restoration of vegetation cover in riparian ecosystems, which in turn will help protect and restore water resources and aquatic ecosystems.

Supplemental Keywords:

riparian, grazing, indicator plants, northern plains, water quality, river, stream, livestock, cattle, grazing impacts, riparian ecosystem, protection, restoration, ecological effects, ecology, agriculture, plants, vegetation, northwest, Great Plains, Montana, MT., RFA, Scientific Discipline, ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, Geographic Area, ECOSYSTEMS, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecology, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, State, Resources Management, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Monitoring, Ecological Risk Assessment, Ecology and Ecosystems, Ecological Indicators, plant-animal interactions, plant indicator, plant conservation, ecosystem assessment, landscape indicator, land cover, Yellowstone River, Riparian ecosystem, conservation, adaptive management, indicator plants, ecological assessment, Great Plains, ecosystem indicators, alternative landscape design, ecosystem restoration, indicator species, Montana , vegetation history, plant population history, land use, grazing, vegetation , land management

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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