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But does with fawns on Welder selected brush-dominated areas and ... Telemetry work with fawns selection of non-native vs. native patches; survival of fawns bedding in non ...

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Non-native Warm Season Grasses: How do they Impact White-tailed Deer?

Timothy E. Fulbright


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Synopsis

  • Non-native grasses continue to spread via invasion and intentional propagation

  • No scientific documentation of effects on deer productivity

    • We only have hypotheses

    • Potential exists for negative impacts

  • Research needed


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Outline

  • What are non-native grasses?

  • Spread of non-native grasses

    • Rate of spread

    • Reasons for spread

  • Potential impacts on deer habitat

    • Forage

    • Fawn cover

    • Change in fire regimes


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What Are Non-native Grasses?

  • Grasses that did not evolve in North America

    • Buffelgrass

    • Bermudagrass

    • Old world bluestems (Kleberg, KR, Silky, Angleton)

    • Lehmann lovegrass

    • Blue panicum

    • Johnsongrass

    • Kleingrass

    • Lovegrasses (Lehmann, Wilman, Weeping)

    • Rhodesgrass


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Spread of Non-native Grasses

  • We don’t know how fast they are spreading or how many new acres planted each year

  • Buffelgrass predicted to cover 12% of Mexico


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Why are Non-native Grasses Increasing

  • Intentional planting

    • CRP

    • Rangeland seeding

  • Disturbance

  • Climate change?


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Why are Non-native Grasses Increasing

  • Intentional planting

    • CRP

    • Rangeland seeding

  • Disturbance

  • Climate change?


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Buffelgrass canopy cover

P = 0.02


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Does fire facilitate exotic grass invasion?


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Disturbance

  • Lehmann lovegrass increases following fire and drought

  • Re-establishes more successfully than natives because of

    • Abundant seed

    • Germination strategies

      Angell and McClaran. 2001. J. Arid Environ. 49:507-520.


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Why are Non-native Grasses Increasing

  • Intentional planting

    • CRP

    • Rangeland seeding

  • Disturbance

  • Climate change?

    • Freezing temps

    • Summer rainfall


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Guineagrass

  • Killed by temperatures

    < 20 C


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Non-native Grasses & Deer

  • Forage?

  • Fawn cover?

  • Fire regimes?


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Seed Company in South TexasActual wording from website

  • “Buffel grass is an excellent source of feed for white tail deer and other wildlife”

  • “Buffel grass also provides great cover for the does to hide their fawns” 

  • “The fact that deer will graze on Buffel grass allows game managers to control the habitat conditions for the deer”


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M. W. Meyer, R. D. Brown and M. W. Graham. Protein and Energy Content of White-Tailed Deer Diets in the Texas Coastal Bend. Journal of Wildlife Management 48:527-534.


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Forage

  • Deer prefer forbs

  • Negative relationship between canopy cover of exotic grasses and forbs


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Guineagrass cover vs. forb cover


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Forb cover negatively

related to Lehmann

Lovegrass cover in

Arizona

  • Williams and Baruch. 2000. Biological Invasions 2:123-140.


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Fawn Cover

  • Why do you have more fawns when you have more grass? Hypotheses - -

    • Hiding cover?

      • But does with fawns on Welder selected brush-dominated areas and avoided grasslands

    • Nutrition?

      • Reduced grazing = more forbs

    • More grass = more buffer species?


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Fawn Cover

  • Guthery, F. S., T. E. Anderson, and V. W. Lehmann. 1979. Range rehabilitation enhances cotton rats in south Texas. J. Range Manage. 32:354-356.

    • Cotton rat densities 4 times greater in rangeland dominated by buffelgrass & KR bluestem than in native rangeland


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Fire Regimes

  • Reduced regeneration of browse plants?


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Conclusions

  • Increase in non-native grasses may reduce forbs & woody cover

  • Deer are highly adaptable and are very plastic in food habits

    • invasion of non-native grasses may have little impact

    • impact may be difficult to detect, particularly in the short term


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The Future

  • Global warming & shift to summer rainfall may favor subtropical grasses such as buffelgrass, Natal grass, Guineagrass, Lehmann lovegrass


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Research Needs

  • Habitat use – do deer avoid areas dominated by non-native grasses?

    • GPS collars – habitat selection/avoidance

    • Foraging studies with tame deer – do they avoid patches of non-native grasses?

    • Telemetry work with fawns – selection of non-native vs. native patches; survival of fawns bedding in non-natives versus exotics

  • Carrying capacity studies with confined deer


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