The effects of climate and herbivores on cool desert shrubs in north-western Utah were investigated with a dynamic simulation model. Cool desert shrublands are extensively managed as grazing lands, and are defoliated annually by domestic livestock. A primary production model was used to simulate harvest yields and shrub responses under a variety of climatic regimes and defoliation patterns. The model consists of six plant components, and it is based on equations of growth analysis. Plant responses were simulated under various combinations of 20 annual weather patterns and 14 defoliation strategies. Results of the simulations exhibit some unexpected linearities in model behavior, and emphasize the importance of both the pattern of climate and the level of plant vigor in determining optimal harvest strategies. Model behaviors are interpreted in terms of shrub morphology, physiology and ecology.
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Analysis of utilization of desert habitats with dynamic simulation