Great Basin Naturalist


Vegetation and soils inside and outside an abandoned sheep corral on degraded subalpine range of the Wasatch Plateau were studied to determine the influence of approximately 37 years' use of the corral on soil and plant development. Vegetal and surface cover were estimated. Herbage, litter, and soils were sampled inside and outside the corral and analyzed for Corg, N, P, and S. Soil pH, bulk density, and CO3–C also were measured. Storage (mass/unit area) of Corg, N, P, and S was determined for each component. Yield and vegetal composition were significantly affected inside the corral boundary. Herbage yield was 2.2 times greater, litter mass 16 times greater, foliar cover of grasses 2 times greater, and forb cover 70% lower inside than outside the corral. Cover of meadow barley (Hordeum brachyantherum), a component of the predisturbance vegetation of the Wasatch Plateau, was nearly 12 times greater inside than outside the corral. These and other vegetal and cover differences reflect inside-outside differences in concentration, storage, and availability of soil Corg, N, P, and S. Concentrations of Corg and total and available N, P, and S were greater in the surface 5 cm of soil inside the corral. Available P inside the corral was much higher in all soil layers. Because of bulk density differences, storage was greater inside the corral only for Corg and N at 0–5 cm and for P at 5–15 cm. Lower soil pH inside the corral appears related to soil P distribution and CO3–C storage. Results suggest a need to reexamine earlier conclusions that tall forbs are the climax dominants of the Wasatch summer range.