• Highlights

      Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01
    • Coping With Drought on California Rangelands

      Macon, Daniel K.; Barry, Sheila; Becchetti, Theresa; Davy, Josh S.; Doran, Morgan P.; Finzel, Julie A.; George, Holly; Harper, John M.; Huntsinger, Lynn; Ingram, Roger S.; et al. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Rangeland livestock producers were among the first agricultural communities affected by California’s multiyear drought. • Rancher surveys and in-person interviews have identified key strategies for coping with and adapting to drought. • Increasing flexibility, resource valuation, and information sharing are important components of building adaptive capacity. • Web-based communication systems have provided new tools for peer-to-peer learning, public education, and extending knowledge to larger audiences. • Insights from managers experiences are important for adaptation planning to enhance resilience of rangeland social-ecological systems to climate stresses.
    • Estimating Overnight Weight Loss of Corralled Yearling Steers in Semiarid Rangeland

      Derner, Justin D.; Reeves, Justin L.; Mortenson, Matthew C.; West, Mark; Irisarri, J. Gonzalo; Durante, Martin (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • A common practice for assessing livestock weight gains from grazing animals on rangelands is to confine animals overnight without feed or water to reduce variation in weight loss and percent shrink. • Advances in remote sensing of vegetation, such as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) provide opportunities to estimate greenness (an indicator of both the quality and quantity of the plant community) that could be used with air temperature and relative humidity as predictors of percent shrink in grazing animals. • We determined percent shrink losses from crossbred yearling steers at each of four weigh dates for four consecutive years. • Percent overnight shrink by yearling steers grazing semiarid rangeland was influenced positively by air temperature and NDVI values, but not relative humidity. • The prediction equation we developed can provide temporal weight gain data within a grazing season without the logistical difficulties in gathering and holding animals, as well as eliminate associated animal stress from shrinking and regaining gut fill multiple times.
    • Highlights

      Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01
    • Highlights

      Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01
    • “In Every Rancher’s Mind”: Effects of Drought on Ranch Planning and Practice

      Wilmer, Hailey; York, Elisabeth; Kelley, Windy K.; Brunson, Mark W. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Ranchers’ responses to drought differ depending on where they live and specific circumstances of their ranches, but there are striking similarities across regions. • Changes in practice after a drought reflect a general desire to buffer one’s operation against disruptions, rather than being specifically aimed at the next drought. • Interviewees often pointed to good things that arose from the bad situation of drought. • Energy development helped offset drought impacts in two cases, but interviewees generally preferred to diversify their income streams through agricultural rather than non-agricultural enterprises. • Ability to respond to drought is somewhat constrained by federal tax laws and agency grazing regulations, as well as by ranchers’ specific circumstances.
    • Assessing Drought Vulnerability Using a Socioecological Framework

      Brown, Joel R.; Kluck, Doug; McNutt, Chad; Hayes, Michael (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Drought is a persistent problem on rangelands and adjusting management to respond appropriately is critical to both preserving natural resources and to maintaining financial viability. • We explore the value of using a structured assessment approach to determining both social and ecological vulnerability. • This approach allows for the identification of vulnerable ecosystems and business operations at regional and local scales as a basis for developing effective policies and programs.
    • Where Do Seasonal Climate Predictions Belong in the Drought Management Toolbox?

      Crimmins, Michael A.; McClaran, Mitchel P. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Seasonal climate predictions, based largely on the status of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, are one such tool but need to be used with prudence, understanding when and where they perform the best. • Advance planning and preparation for drought includes finding the right place for uncertain climate predictions in management decision making, as well as working to reduce overall exposure to drought risks.
    • A Workshop on Future Directions of Usable Science for Rangeland Sustainability

      Maczko, Kristie A.; Hidinger, Lori A.; Tanaka, John A.; Ellis, Chad R. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • As funding for rangeland research becomes more difficult to secure, researchers and funding organizations must ensure that the information needs of public and private land managers are met. • Usable science that involves the intended end users throughout the scientific enterprise and gives rise to improved outcomes and informed management on the ground should be emphasized. • The SRR workshop on Future Directions of Usable Science for Rangeland Sustainability brought together university and agency researchers, public and private land managers and producers, non-governmental organizations, and representatives of funding agencies and organizations to initiate the process of charting a research agenda for future directions of usable science for rangeland sustainability. • Workshop outcomes address issues and research questions for soil health, water, vegetation (plants), animals, and socio-economic aspects of rangeland sustainability.
    • Future Directions for Usable Rangeland Science: From Plant Communities to Landscapes

      Fuhlendorf, Samuel D.; Brown, Joel R. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • The profession of rangeland ecology and management has been built, to a large extent, on vegetation ecology. • Community ecology has been the source of advances in scientific understanding of rangeland behavior and improving management. • An increased use of the principles of landscape and regional ecology could greatly improve the utility of rangeland science for researchers and managers.
    • Future Directions of Usable Science for Sustainable Rangelands: Water

      Dobrowolski, James P.; Engle, David M. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Usable science takes on a completely new meaning when you are looking to science to literally save your livelihood. • The challenge for rangeland professionals, including research scientists, is accurately predicting the consequences to water of land-use change, climate change, and increasing competition for water while also providing socially acceptable science-based solutions. • The good news for rangeland professionals and research scientists is that because water is indeed essential for life, our knowledge and skills will be essential for addressing these issues.
    • Usable Science: Soil Health

      Derner, Justin D.; Stanley, Charles (Chuck); Ellis, Chad (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Healthy soils are fundamental to sustainable rangelands, but soils function in obscurity. This is reflected in the belowground black-box mentality often attributed to soils. • Transformational changes get the attention of land managers and the public for example, soil erosion associated with the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. This provides benchmarks for the context of importance in maintaining healthy soils for the productive capacity of rangelands. • Benefits of soil health include enhanced soil water-holding capacity and appropriate nutrient cycling, which increases rangelands resilience to weather variability and predicted climate change. • Future directions of usable science for soil health include: 1) characterization of soil health indicators for sensitivity levels that affect transitions/thresholds of state-and-transition models, 2) influences of management practices, predicted climate change, and extreme events, and 3) impact of prescribed fire and wildfires on soil health.
    • New Tools for Assessing Drought Conditions for Rangeland Management

      Knutson, Cody; Fuchs, Brian (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Historical drought assessment and ongoing monitoring is essential for understanding past drought occurrence, the relationships between past drought and its impacts, and for triggering action during current drought events. • A variety of new products have recently been developed to better monitor drought conditions and assess past occurrences at the local scale. • A growing number of resources are available to assist rangeland managers to develop a monitoring system and incorporate it into a drought management plan.
    • Advancing Knowledge for Proactive Drought Planning and Enhancing Adaptive Management for Drought on Rangelands: Introduction to a Special Issue

      Kelley, Windy K.; Scasta, John Derek; Derner, Justin D. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Drought adversely affects land managers, ranching enterprises, and pastoral systems. • As an ecological driver, drought historically shaped vegetation composition, structure, diversity, and productivity of rangelands leading to varying levels of resilience in these ecosystems. • Drought influences risk management in decision making by rangeland managers, resulting in a renewed emphasis on the importance of proactive drought planning and adaptive management for drought with monitoring-informed decision making.
    • Case Study: Multistakeholder Development of State-and-Transition Models: A Case Study from Northwestern Colorado

      Bruegger, Retta A.; Fernandez-Gimenez, Maria E.; Tipton, Crystal Y.; Timmer, Jennifer M.; Aldridge, Cameron L. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Engaging multiple stakeholders in building state-and-transition models (STMs) can increase the credibility and relevance they have to land managers. • Land managers and land stewards may be more likely to use STMs that were developed in collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders. • The quality of STMs is improved when they are repeatedly revised based on new knowledge from research, multiple interactions with local stakeholders, and ecological field data.
    • Improving the Effectiveness of Ecological Site Descriptions: General State-and-Transition Models and the Ecosystem Dynamics Interpretive Tool (EDIT)

      Bestelmeyer, Brandon T.; Williamson, Jeb C.; Talbot, Curtis J.; Cates, Greg W.; Duniway, Michael C.; Brown, Joel R. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • State-and-transition models (STMs) are useful tools for management, but they can be difficult to use and have limited content. • STMs created for groups of related ecological sites could simplify and improve their utility. The amount of information linked to models can be increased using tables that communicate management interpretations and important within-group variability. • We created a new web-based information system (the Ecosystem Dynamics Interpretive Tool) to house STMs, associated tabular information, and other ecological site data and descriptors. • Fewer, more informative, better organized, and easily accessible STMs should increase the accessibility of science information.
    • A History of Plant Improvement by the USDA-ARS Forage and Range Research Laboratory for Rehabilitation of Degraded Western U.S. Rangelands

      Staub, Jack; Chatterton, Jerry; Bushman, Shaun; Johnson, Douglas; Jones, Thomas; Larson, Steve; Robins, Joseph; Monaco, Thomas (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Climate change models for the western United States predict warmer winters in the Great Basin and hotter, drier summers in the Mojave Desert, increasing the already high rate of rangeland and pasture degradation, which in turn will increase annual grass invasion, escalate wildfire frequency, and reduce forage production. • These changes in western U.S. rangelands will continue to result in the emergence of novel ecosystems that will require different and/or improved plant materials for successful revegetation. • Traditional plant improvement of native and non-native rangeland plant species by the USDA, ARS Forage and Range Research Laboratory (FRRL, Logan, Utah) has been accomplished through rigorous evaluation of seed collections followed by recurrent selection and hybridization of unique plant types within selected populations to identify plants with superior establishment and performance characteristics. After such plant types have been selected, they are further evaluated in multiple ecologically diverse locations to identify broadly adapted superior germplasm for public release. • Plant improvement of perennial grasses, legumes, and forbs by the FRRL has provided and will continue to deliver plant materials that support sustainable rangeland management efforts to service productive and functionally diverse rangelands.
    • The Role of Data and Inference in the Development and Application of Ecological Site Concepts and State-and-Transition Models

      Karl, Jason W.; Talbot, Curtis J. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Information embodied in ecological site descriptions and their state-and-transition models is crucial to effective land management, and as such is needed now. • There is not time (or money) to employ a traditional research-based approach (i.e., inductive/deductive, hypothesis driven inference) to address the unknowns in developing and documenting ecological site concepts. • We propose that the development of ecological site products is a dynamic task of defining concepts and processes that best explain the available data (i.e., abductive reasoning), and as such a more iterative approach to their development is needed than is currently used. • Under the proposed approach, ecological site concepts are never viewed as final but only the best representation that is supported by available knowledge and data. • The natural result of this way of thinking is that products like ecological site descriptions and state-and-transition models should continually be tested and improved as new data become available.
    • Using Ecological Site Information to Improve Landscape Management for Ecosystem Services

      Brown, Joel R.; Havstad, Kris M. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Ecological sites and their component state-and-transition models are valuable tools for predicting the effects of climatic and management changes on a variety of ecosystem services. • Site-specific information must be able to be both refined to finer scales to account for spatiotemporal variability within a mapped site and expanded to include interactions with other sites in the landscape to identify priorities and account for integrative disturbances and ecosystem services such as wildlife habitat, hydrology, fire, insect outbreak and invasive species. • Ecological site groups, spatially contiguous and behaviorally similar, are an important level in the land hierarchy to organize and interpret information.
    • Completing the Land Resource Hierarchy

      Salley, Shawn W.; Monger, H. Curtis; Brown, Joel R. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • The Land Resource Hierarchy is a useful framework for organizing natural resource information and can provide both insight and explanation while maintaining consistency in terminology, concepts, and interpretations across scales is a challenge. • While some scales of the Land Resource Hierarchy are well developed, with all land area assigned to quantitatively defined groups, other scales lack organizing concepts, relationships, and definitions that allow for testing and revision. • Ecological sites and ecological site groups represent distinct scales in the Land Resource Hierarchy framework, so they should be based on appropriate quantitative variables that can be used to define and communicate their extent and behavior.