The Effects of Wildlife (Deer) and Livestock (Sheep and Goat) Grazing on Species Diversity and Richness, and Plant Composition in the Steppe Rangelands of Mehriz

Document Type : Original Articles


1 MSc.Student of Range Management,Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Sari Agricultural Science and Natural Resources, Sari

2 Assistant Professor, Department of Range Management, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Sari Agricultural Science and Natural Resources, Sari

3 Associate Professor, Department of Range Management, Faculty of Natural Resources, Yazd University, Yazd


To assess the impact of grazing on the diversity, richness and evenness of vegetation, several indices and information on plant composition are necessary because of their different sensitivity to grazing gradients and kinds of herbivores.Thus, the purpose of this study was to compare these indices between two wildlife and livestock grazing sites in steppe rangelands of Mehriz. Sampling was performed using a random systematic method in April 2012 (10 transects of 100m and three plots of 2m2 were placed on each transect on each site). The species name, plant families, longevity and canopy cover percentage were determined in each plot and along each transect. Finally, the data were analysed using an independent sample t-test. The results showed that the canopy cover percentage of Colchicum kotschyi, Iris songarica(p<0.05) and Stachys inflata(p<0.01) significantly increased while the percentage of Artemisia sieberi, Stipa barbata(p<0.01) and Scorzonera sp.(p<0.05) canopy cover was revealed to have significantly decreased in deer grazing areas. The results of a statistical analysis showed that deer grazing has caused plant diversity indices to increase such as Shannon, Simpson and evenness (p<0.01). However, the Margalef and Menhinick indices did not show any significant difference between the two sites.


  1. Aghajanlou F, Mousavi A, Investigating the effects of exclusion on qualitative and quantitative changes of rangelands vegetation (1985-2003). Publication of Natural Resources College; 2006; 4: 981-986. [In Persian]
  2. Alikhani A, Ahmadi M.R, Range Management Project of Sarve, Ernan, Kamalabad Winter Rangeland. Department of Natural Resources and Watershed, Yazd Province; 2012. p.70. [In Persian]
  3. Asadian Gh, Akbarzade M, Sadeghimanesh M.R, Investigation of vegetation changes in two grazed and enclosed sites in Gian Nahavand rangelands. Iranian Journal of Range and Desert Research; 2009; 16(3): 343-352. [In Persian]
  4. Azarnivand H, Zare Chahoki M.A, Rangeland inventory. Tehran: Tehran University Press; 2008. P.246. [In Persian]
  5. Badripour H, The effect of distances from trough on vegetation characteristics and condition. Range Management, MSc. Thesis, Natural Resources College, Tehran University; 1997. p.78. [In Persian]
  6. Bagheri E, Mesdaghi M, Amirkhani M, Comparison of vegetation composition under exclosure, gazelle and sheep grazing in Golestan National Park and vicinities. Pajouhesh and Sazandegi; 2008; 80: 83-93. [In Persian]
  7. Barker D.J, Dodd M.B, Wedderbum M.E, Plant diversity effects on herbage production and compositional changes in New Zealand hill country pastures. Grass and Forage Science; 2004; 59(1): 12-29.
  8. Bilotta G.S, Brazier R.E, Haygarth P.M, The impacts of grazing animals on the quality of soils, vegetation, and surface waters in intensively managed grasslands. Advances in Agronomy; 2007; 94: 237-250.
  9. Cuevas M.F, Mastrantonio L, Ojeda R.A, Jaksic F.M, Effect of Wild boar disturbance on vegetation and soil properties in the Monte Desert, Argentina. Mammalian Biology; 2012; 77: 299-306.
  10. Ejtehadi H, Sepehri A, Akkafi H, Methods of biodiversity measurement. Mashhad: Publication of University of Mashhad; 2009. p.178. [In Persian]
  11. Environment Administration of Yazd Province. Unpublished reports; 2011. [In Persian]
  12. Fahimipoor E, Zare Chahouki M.A, Jafari M, Goldansaz M, Mohhebi Z, Investigation of Plant Diversity in Middle Rangelands of Taleghan by using BIO-DAP. Journal of Rangeland Science; 2010; 1(1): 47-51. [In Persian]
  13. Fakhimi E, Dyanati Gh.A, Mesdaghi M, Naderi H, The effect of gradient grazing on species diversity and plant community structure in steppic rangelands of Nodushan, Yazd Province, Iran. The Second National Conference of Iran Ecological Agriculture; 2007; 657-671. [In Persian]
  14. Fakhimi Abarghoui A, Dianati Tilki Gh, Mesdaghi M, Naderi Nasrabad H, The effect of distances from trough on vegetation diversity and composition in arid rangelands of Nodushan in Yazd province. Rangeland Journal; 2009; 3(1): 41-52. [In Persian]
  15. Faryabi N, Comparison of plant diversity under different utilization intensities in shrub rangelands of Khebr National Park and adjacent regions. Range Management MSc. Thesis, Natural Resources College, Agricultural Science and Natural Resources University of Gorgan; 2006. p.102. [In Persian]
  16. Fernandez-Lugo S, Nascimento L, Mellado M, Bermejo L.A, Arevalo J.R, Vegetation change and chemical soil composition after 4 years of goat grazing exclusion in a Canary Islands pasture. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment; 2009; 132: 276- 282.
  17. Firinioglu H.K, Seefeldt S.S, Sahin B, The effects of long- term grazing exclosures on range plants in the Central Anatolian region of Turkey. Journal of Environment Management; 2007; 39: 326- 337.
  18. Gabriel O, Andress C, Stable states in relation to grazing in Patagonia: a 10 year experimental trial, Journal of Arid Environment; 1998; 40: 113-131.
  19. Ghahsare Ardestani E, Basiri M, Tarkesh M, Borhani H, Suitable factors for investigation of biodiversity in four pasture regions in Isfahan Province. Rangeland Journal; 2010; 4(1): 33-46. [In Persian]
  20. Gharehdaghi H, Investigation of exclusion on vegetation composition in steppic rangelands of Neer, Yazd Province. Natural Resources and Environment Second Regional Conference, Islamic Azad University, Branch Arsanjan; 2008. [In Persian]
  21. Ghorbani J, Taya A, Shokri M, Naseri H.R, Comparison of Whittaker and Modified-Whittaker plots to estimate species richness in semi-arid grassland and shrubland. Desert; 2011; 16: 17-22. [In Persian]
  22. Hendricks H.H, Bond W.J, Midgley J.J, Novellie P.A, Plant species richness and composition a long livestock grazing intensity gradients in a Namaqualand (South Africa) protected area. Journal of Plant Ecology; 2005; 176: 19-33.
  23. Hickman K.R, Hartnett D.C, Cochran R.C, Owensby C.E, Grazing management effects on plant species diversity in tall grass prairie. Journal of Range Management; 2004; 57: 58-65.
  24. Hoshino A, Yoshihara Y, Sasaki T, Okayasu T, Jamsran U, Okuro T, Takeuchi K, Comparison of vegetation changes along grazing gradients with different numbers of livestock. Journal of Arid Environment; 2009; 73: 687-690.
  25. Hosseinzade G, Jalilvand H, Tamartash R, Vegetation characteristics and some soil chemical properties in rangelands with different grazing intensities. Iranian Journal of Range and Desert Research; 2007; 14(4): 500-512. [In Persian]
  26. Jahantab E, Sepehry A, Hanafi B, Mirdeilamy S.Z, Comparison of plant species diversity in two grazed and enclosed rangeland sites in mountainous rangelands of central Zagros (Case study: Dishmook in Kohgiluyeh and Buyer Ahmad Province). Iranian Journal of Range and Desert Research; 2010; 17(2): 292-300. [In Persian]
  27. Jalilvand H, Tamartash R, Heydarpour H, Grazing impact on vegetation and some soil chemical properties in Kojour rangelands, Noushahr, Iran. Journal of Rangeland; 2007; 1: 53-66. [In Persian]
  28. Jouri M.H, Tamzad B, Shokri M, Banihashemi B, Comparison of diversity and richness indices for evaluation of mountain rangeland health (Case study: rangelands of Javaherdeh of Ramsar). Rangeland Journal; 2008; 2(4): 344-356. [In Persian]
  29. Karimian A.A, Investigation and identification of plant species in Kalmand-Bahadoran protected area. Environmental Research Project; 1999. p.98. [In Persian]
  30. Khademolhosseini Z, Comparison of numerical plant species diversity indices in three sites of different grazing intensities (Case study: Gardane Zanboori Rangeland of Arsanjan). Rangeland Journal; 2011; 4 (1): 104-111. [In Persian]
  31. Khani M, Ghanbarian G, Kamali Maskooni E, Comparison between plant species richness and diversity indices along different grazing gradients in southern warm-arid rangelands of Fars. Rangeland Journal; 2011; 5(2): 129-136. [In Persian]
  32. Kohandel A, Chaeichi M, Arzani H, Mohseni Saravi M, Zahedi Amiri Gh, The effect of livestock grazing intensities on vegetation composition and soil moisture, mechanical resistance and permeability. Journal of Iran Natural Resources; 2006; 59: 1001-1011. [In Persian]
  33. Louhaichi M, Ghassali F, Salkini A.K, Petersen S.L, Effect of sheep grazing on rangeland plant communities: Case study of landscape depressions within Syrian arid steppes. Journal of Arid Environments; 2012; 79: 101-106.
  34. Mangurran A.E, Ecological Diversity and its Measurement. Princeton: University Press, Princeton, NJ; 1988.
  35. Mesdaghi M, Range Management in Iran. Mashhad: Razavi press; 2003. p.97. [In Persian]
  36. Mesdaghi M, Plant Ecology. Mashhad: Jihad Daneshgahi Press; 2006. p.104. [In Persian]
  37. Mesdaghi M, Sadeghnejad M, Comparison of plant diversity indices of three level utilizations in semi-steppe grasslands of northeast of Iran. Journal of Agricultural Science and Natural Resources; 2000; 7(3): 63-76. [In Persian]
  38. Mligo C, Effect of grazing pressure on plant species composition and diversity in the semi-arid rangelands of Mobulu district, Tanzania. Agricultural Journal; 2006; 1(4): 277-283.
  39. Moeinpour N, Enclosure effects on vegetation in Kalpoosh rangelands. Range Management MSc. Thesis, Agricultural Science and Natural Resources University of Gorgan; 2008. p.98. [In Persian]
  40. Moghaddam M.R, Ecology of terrestrial plant. Tehran: Tehran University Press; 2006. p.84. [In Persian]
  41. Moser B.W, Witmer G.W, The effect of elk and cattle foraging on the vegetation, birds, and small mammals of the Bridge Creek Wildlife Area, Oregon. International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation; 2000; 45: 151- 157.
  42. Pei Sh, Fu H, Wan Ch, Changes in soil properties and vegetation following exclosure and grazing in degraded Alxa desert steppe of Inner Mongolia, China. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment; 2008; 124: 33-39.
  43. Pellerin S, Huot J, Cote S.D, Long term effects of deer browsing and trampling on the vegetation of peatlands. Biological Conservation; 2006; 128: 316- 326.
  44. Pueyo Y, Alados C.L, Ferrer-Benimeli C, Is the analysis of plant community structure better than common species-diversity indices for assessing the effects of livestock grazing on a Mediterranean arid ecosystem. Journal of Arid Environments; 2006; 64:698-712.
  45. Ruthven D.C, Grazing effect on forb diversity and abundance in a honey mesquite Parkland. Journal of Arid Environment; 2007; 68: 668-677.
  46. Salami A, Zare H, Amini Eshkevari T, Jafari B, Comparison of plant species diversity in the two grazed and ungrazed sites in Kohneh Lashak, Nowshahr. Journal of Pajouhesh and Sazandegi; 2007; 75: 37-46. [In Persian]
  47. Tahmasbi P, Rangeland Ecosystems Analysis. Pelk Press; 2009. p.350. [In Persian]
  48. Tessema Z.K, Boer W.F, Baars R.M.T, Prins H.H.T, Changes in soil nutrients, vegetation structure and herbaceous biomass in response to grazing in a semi-arid savanna of Ethiopia. Journal of Arid Environments; 2011; 75: 662-670.
  49. Tilman D, Reich P.B, Knops J, Wedin D, Mielk T, Lehman C, Diversity and production in a long-term grassland experiment. Science; 2001; 294: 843-845.
  50. Virginie B, Tessier M, Digaire F, Vivier J.P, Valery L, Gloaguen J.C, Lefeuvre J.C, Sheep grazing as management tool in Western Europen saltmarshes. Journal of C.R.Biol.; 2003; 1: 148-157.
  51. Wilson S.D, Tilman D, Quadratic variation in old-field species richness along gradient of disturbance and nitrogen. Ecology; 2002; 83: 492-504.
  52. Yayneshet T, Eik L.O, Moe S.R, The effects of exclosures in restoring degraded semi-arid vegetation in communal grazing lands in northern Ethiopia. Journal of Arid Environments; 2009; 73: 542-549.
  53. Yeo J.J, Effects of grazing exclusion on rangeland vegetation and soils, East Central Idaho. Western North American Naturalist; 2005; 65(1): 91-102.
  54. Zamora J, Verdu J.R, Galante E, Species richness in Mediterranean agroecosystems: Spatial and temporal analysis for biodiversity conservation. Journal of Biological Conservation; 2007; 134: 113-121.
  55. Zare Chahoki M.A, Jafari M, Azarnivand H, Relationship between species diversity and environmental factors (Case study:Artoon-Fashandak Rangelands of Taleghan). Rangeland Journal; 2009; 2: 171-180. [In Persian]
  56. Zhaoa W.Y, Lia J.L, Qi J.G, Changes in vegetation diversity and structure in response to heavy grazing pressure in the northern Tianshan Mountains, China. Journal of Arid Environments; 2007; 68: 465-479.