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: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: August 1, 2000 through August 1, 2002
Project Amount: $54,815
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2000) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
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 conservation, plant indicator, plant-animal interactions, ecosystem assessment, land cover, landscape indicator, Yellowstone River, Riparian ecosystem, adaptive management, conservation, indicator plants, ecological assessment, ecosystem indicators, Great Plains, alternative landscape design, ecosystem restoration, Montana , indicator species, plant population history, vegetation history, ecological restoration, grazing, land management, land use

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2001
  • Final