Publication in: Fall 2022 Issue

Effects of simulated cattle hoof depressions on animal diversity and abundance in a mountain bog
Zoe Lonabaugh
Faculty Mentor(s):
Rebecca Hale
Abstract / Summary:
Cattle have a long history in the Appalachian mountains and privately owned land may be subjected to the effects of cattle grazing. This is especially true of mountain bogs, most of which occur on private land that has been converted to cattle pasture. Cattle may have devastating effects on plants, as they graze indiscriminately. The effects of cattle walking through a mountain bog, however, may also be beneficial to animals that require water. This may be the case because as cattle walk through bogs, their hooves create water-filled depressions that may create refugia for animals. No prior studies have looked at the effect that cattle hoof depressions have on the biodiversity and ecological community of mountain bogs. My study aims to determine if these depressions are used as refugia by using an auger to create simulated cattle hoof prints and collecting data on animals found in these depressions. This study consisted of monitoring plots with auger holes and plots without auger holes. The number of animals in each plot was observed over the course of 12 weeks. The results of my study show that plots with auger holes have significantly greater taxon richness and animal abundance. These results indicate that some taxa, especially invertebrates, may be attracted to these water-filled hoof depressions.
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