Chapter

Influences of Free-Roaming Equids on Sagebrush Ecosystems, with a Focus on Greater Sage-Grouse

Erik A. Beever and Cameron L. Aldridge

in Greater Sage-Grouse

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780520267114
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948686 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520267114.003.0015
Influences of Free-Roaming Equids on Sagebrush Ecosystems, with a Focus on Greater Sage-Grouse

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Free-roaming equids (horses [Equus caballus] and burros [E. asinus]) in the United States were introduced to North America at the end of the fifteenth century, and have unique management status among ungulates. Past research has elaborated that free-roaming horses can exert notable direct influences in sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) communities on structure and composition of vegetation and soils, as well as indirect influences on numerous animal groups whose abundance collectively may indicate the ecological integrity of such communities. Alterations to vegetation attributes and invertebrates can most directly affect fitness of Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) and other sagebrush-obligate species; alterations of soils and other ecosystem properties may also indirectly affect these species. Many wildlife species have been negatively affected by changes to sagebrush ecosystems. For example, many sagebrush-obligate birds have experienced population declines and range contractions over the past forty years.

Keywords: Equus; burros; Centrocercus urophasianus; sagebrush; sagebrush ecosystems; horses; Greater Sage-Grouse; Artemisia; wildlife; vegetation

Chapter.  9933 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Vertebrates

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