Effects of Grazing on Cryptogamic Crusts in Pinyon-juniper Woodlands in Grand Canyon National Park

  • Beymer R
  • Klopatek J
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Abstract

-Previously grazed pinyon-juniper woodlands in Grand Canyon National Park, northern Arizona, were studied to determine the effects of past and present grazing. The occurrence and biomass of cryptogamic crust were compared for five sites in and around the Park along a continuum from never grazed to recently grazed. All sites were similar in soil characteristics, elevation and overstory dominants. Cryptogamic crust was quantified using visible cover estimates and the chlorophyll a content of the crust as an indicator of biomass. Visible crust cover was reduced almost 80% on grazed (5.2%) as compared to ungrazed (23.3%) sites. Crust biomass, as estimated by chlorophyll a content, was reduced on grazed (3.1 J.Lg cm-2) compared to ungrazed (9.9 J.Lg cm-2) sites. There were no significant differences in species presence and absence data. Significant correlations existed between cryptogamic crust cover and the composition of the respective vascular plant communities, marked by a reduction of grasses and an increase of bare soil.

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Authors

  • Renee J Beymer

  • Jeffrey M Klopatek

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