Controlled Grazing Helps Boost Biodiversity at Vernal Pools

Researchers with the University of California found that grazing can play a role in protecting biodiversity and vulnerable plant species in California’s vernal pool habitat. Vernal pools are seasonal, ephemeral ponds that are reservoirs of native plant biodiversity in California’s grasslands dominated by invasive and non-native species. However, researchers noted that where pools had been fenced off to protect them from grazing, biodiversity was declining. They found that when cattle were allowed to graze under carefully controlled conditions, biodiversity increased. The cattle preferred to graze on grasses, keeping their expansion in check, while the cattle’s footprints filled with moisture, creating miniature vernal pools that sustained greater numbers of native plants.