Seasonal effects of defoliation on montane rough fescue (Festuca campestris Rydb.) by Leslie McInenly

Montane rough fescue (Festuca campestris Rydb.) grassland was historically grazed in winter, but changes in migratory behaviour of elk (Cervus elaphus) may lead to year-long grazing. Leslie describes spatio-temporal patterns in nutrient return on a fescue grassland at the Ya Ha Tinda ranch, response of grassland plants and soils to seasonal defoliation, and fescue plant response to nitrogen-form and defoliation. Elk pellet group distribution shifted seasonally and was associated with site productivity, rough fescue, topography, and vegetation cover. In a 2-year field experiment, aboveground carbon and nitrogen pools at the community level responded to changes in seasonal defoliation while root biomass and soil N did not change. A greenhouse experiment showed that decreased tillering and root growth, not increased mortality. Leslie discusses her research results in light of changing migratory patterns of elk and sustainability of elk-fescue grassland.