Rangelands are home to many amphibians native to British Columbia. On these lands, improperly managed livestock could contribute to the habitat destruction that has driven the decline of many of these species. In core terrestrial or upland habitat, livestock overuse could alter or reduce vegetation that provides amphibians with protection from desiccation, ultraviolet radiation, and predation, and also provides invertebrate prey and migratory routes between habitat patches. Trampling can cause soil compaction, which can cause drastic changes to hydrology, changing the characteristics of streams and ponds, and changing their hydroperiod. In the riparian zone, livestock overuse can affect the plant communities that prevent soil erosion, maintain water quality and stream bank stability, and provide shade cover for the water body and habitat for amphibians and their prey. The early life stages of amphibians that take place in aquatic habitat are therefore subject to increased temperature, ultraviolet radiation, nitrogen pollution, sedimentation, pathogenic bacteria, eutrophication, desiccation, and trampling. These factors and others can interact in a context-dependent fashion to contribute to amphibian decline. Ranchers and livestock operators can act to reduce the effects of livestock grazing on amphibian habitat. Measures include retaining proper functioning condition of the riparian zone, maintaining plant litter and vegetation (stubble) height; restricting livestock access to core terrestrial amphibian habitat and to water; and maintaining landscape connectivity between populations.
Cragg, J.. 2007. The Effects of Livestock Grazing on the Amphibians of British Columbia. Ministry of Environment. Wildlife Working Report. WR111