Projected climate change is currently threatening our nation’s rangelands, and discovering and adopting best management practices for this changing climate is critical. Yet, strategies to deal with predicted multi-year extreme droughts are limited by a lack of experimental and observational information. We are working in the rangeland of Montana and Wyoming to (1) experimentally examine the interactive effects of drought intensity and grazing management to determine mechanisms underlying rangeland resiliency in the face of a changing climate, and (2) facilitate implementation of best-management practices by integrating rangeland managers in the project from beginning to end.
Traditionally, experimental manipulations have focused on either environmental manipulations or management manipulations. In this work, we will experimentally test drought-management interactions in northern mixed-grass rangeland, which represents the largest ecoregion in the United States. Our research examines the mechanisms underlying rangeland responses to drought and management, including plant and soil components. The interactive drought management and gradient approach of our experiment will help identify best management practices for a variety of future climate scenarios.