Livestock grazing can be viewed as a chronic disturbance factor on landscapes with the potential to have positive, neutral, or negative impacts on biodiversity. Habitat diversity is the most directly affected attribute of biodiversity. A decline in habitat diversity leads to a decline in species diversity, which, in turn, leads to a decline in genetic diversity. Grazing can have an effect on habitat diversity through the process of selective grazing. Changes in plant community structure and function can occur from the lack of proper grazing management. Grazing may also have indirect effects on plant community composition by impacting nutrient cycling and energy flow. However, other land management practices, both past and present, or other natural events, often interact with grazing to affect biodiversity. Grazing managers can mitigate the potential negative effects of grazing with the implementation of grazing systems designed to provide for the physiological and ecological needs of forage species. Additionally, with knowledge of animal behavior traits, vegetation, and landscape variables, managers can design grazing systems that are neutral or even complementary to biodiversity.
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