Assessing ungulates’ role in riparian hummocking on three national forests in southern Utah
Collin W. Smith
May 13, 2015
Department or Program
Geology - Environmental Studies
Very little research has been conducted on the role of ungulates in the development of hummocked topography in wetlands. This survey evaluates 22 hummocked wet meadows and riparian areas on the Dixie, Fishlake and Manti-La Sal National Forests in southern Utah. I explored the variability in location and morphology of hummocked areas in order to better understand the mechanisms of formation at play. The study explores evidence for and against ungulate grazing as factor in hummock formation and/or exacerbation in order to better direct federal land managers’ approach to wetland protection and mitigation. Hummock oblateness may be an important indicator of ungulate interaction with hummocked wetlands. However, the lack of suitable ungrazed reference areas compounds the difficulty of determining ungulate impact. Two locations with exclosures or lighter grazing regimes present different hummock morphology.