Ranchers’ perceptions of vegetation heterogeneity in the northern great plains

Maggi Sliwinski, Mark Burbach, Larkin Powell, Walter Schacht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Most rangelands in the United States are privately owned and managed for beef production. Th ere is little understanding of ranchers’ perceptions about heterogeneity or tools that can be used to increase heterogeneity, such as fi re and grazing, even though heterogeneity is crucial for biodiversity conservation. To guide conservationists as they engage with ranchers, we conducted interviews with 12 ranchers in three states to provide a description of ranchers’ worldviews as they relate to heterogeneity and disturbances that maintain heterogeneity in rangeland ecosystems. Ranchers expressed a desire to maintain control over their operations by reducing risks and being careful in selecting trusted advisors. Further, ranchers associated some heterogeneity characteristics (e.g., bare ground) with outcomes of poor management, which is problematic for eff orts that aim to increase heterogeneity in rangelands. Ranchers value seeing results of new management methods on university experiment stations or neighbors’ lands, which may provide a roadmap for conservation planners and NGOs to introduce heterogeneity management strategies to ranchers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-197
Number of pages13
JournalGreat Plains Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • Beef production
  • Private land conservation
  • Qualitative research
  • Ranching
  • Rangeland
  • Vegetation heterogeneity
  • Wildlife conservation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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