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    Author(s): Sébastien Nusslé; Kathleen R. Matthews; Stephanie M. Carlson
    Date: 2017
    Source: Ecosphere. 8(7): e01880
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Pacific Southwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (2.0 MB)


    In 1978, the Golden Trout Wilderness area was established to protect the California golden trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita)—a vulnerable subspecies of the rainbow trout that is endemic to California—and its habitat, which is currently restricted to a few streams within high-elevation meadows in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Because of the deleterious effects of livestock grazing on riparian vegetation in the golden trout habitat (occurring since the 1800s), meadow restoration activities were initiated in 1991, including cattle exclusion. There has been renewed discussion about re-opening these public lands to livestock grazing, and impact assessment studies are needed to inform decision makers about the potential consequences. Thus, we estimated the recovery potential of the golden trout habitat by measuring the height of riparian vegetation within areas that have been grazed vs. closed to grazing (“rested”) since 1991. We found that cattle exclusion is effective at favoring riparian vegetation growth, but that vegetation recovery from grazing could take several decades in these sensitive habitats as some “rested” areas have yet to recover to full vegetation height, even after 25 yr of rest.

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    Nusslé, Sébastien; Matthews, Kathleen R.; Carlson, Stephanie M. 2017. Patterns and dynamics of vegetation recovery following grazing cessation in the California golden trout habitat. Ecosphere. 8(7): e01880.


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    global change, Golden Trout Wilderness, grazing, livestock, Oncorhynchus mykiss guabonita, protected area, public lands, riparian vegetation

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