• Editorial: An Introduction to the Special Issue “Ecological Sites for Landscape Management”

      Brown, Joel R.; Bestelmeyer, Brandon T. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Case Study: Generalizing Ecological Site Concepts of the Colorado Plateau for Landscape-Level Applications

      Duniway, Michael C.; Nauman, Travis W.; Johanson, Jamin K.; Green, Shane; Miller, Mark E.; Williamson, Jeb C.; Bestelmeyer, Brandon T. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Numerous ecological site descriptions in the southern Utah portion of the Colorado Plateau can be difficult to navigate, so we held a workshop aimed at adding value and functionality to the current ecological site system. • We created new groups of ecological sites and drafted state-and-transition models for these new groups. • We were able to distill the current large number of ecological sites in the study area (ca. 150) into eight ecological site groups that capture important variability in ecosystem dynamics. • Several inventory and monitoring programs and landscape scale planning actions will likely benefit from more generalized ecological site group concepts.
    • Case Study: Provisional, Forested Ecological Sites in the Northern Appalachians and Their State-and-Transition Models

      Drohan, Patrick J.; Ireland, Alex W. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • The identification of unique areas of vegetative potential across the Northern Appalachians is complicated by a long land-use history of vegetation management. • We introduce provisional ecological sites and associated state-and-transition models for the region, which can be differentiated by latitudinal drivers of: precipitation and temperature; local parent material and resulting soil differences; and landscape position, slope, or aspect. • Identification of ecological sites and associated States or Phases in the Northern Appalachians provides land managers with quantifiable benchmarks for assessing forest compositional shifts due to natural or anthropogenic disturbance.
    • Case Study: Classifying Northern New England Landscapes for Improved Conservation

      Johanson, Jamin K.; Butler, Nicholas R.; Bickford, Carl I. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Ecological land classification enables improved conservation by linking land types to vegetation, ecosystem services, disturbance regimes, and conservation practices. • Defining landscape-scale ecological site groups allows for the development of generalized state-and-transition models for summarizing the major ecological dynamics and associated conservation practices within a region. • We defined nine ecological sitegroups for northern New England(MLRA143) by identifying the fewest number of ecological classes as possible while retaining maximum utility of state-and-transition models for each class. • Ecological site groups provide scalability of ecological site information and simplify the development of ecological concepts and the application of appropriate conservation practices.
    • Case Study: Applying Ecological Site Concepts to Adaptive Conservation Management on an Iconic Californian Landscape

      Spiegal, Sheri; Bartolome, James W.; White, Michael D. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Managers of large landscapes with limited financial resources can use ecological sites and state-and-transition models to identify landscape divisions with the highest chances of responding favorably to management activities. • This conceptual framework can help determine the optimal configuration of pastures and water developments so that conservation-focused grazing and response monitoring align with focal landscape divisions. • As communication tools, these models can help conservation land managers and graziers to better understand how the variation in landscapes affects the distribution of conservation targets and the specific locations where management can be tailored to enhance biodiversity.
    • Case Study: Disturbance Response Grouping of Ecological Sites Increases Utility of Ecological Sites and State-and-Transition Models for Landscape Scale Planning in the Great Basin

      Stringham, Tamzen K.; Novak-Echenique, Patti; Snyder, Devon K.; Peterson, Sarah; Snyder, Keirith A. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Ecological sites often occur at scales too small for application in planning large-scale vegetation treatments or post-fire rehabilitation. • Disturbance Response Groups (DRGs) are used to scale up ecological sites by grouping ecological sites based on their responses to disturbances. • A state-and-transition model (STM) is created for the DRG and refined through field investigations for each ecological site thereby creating STMs that function at both DRG and ecological site scales. • The limited availability of ecological site descriptions hinders their use in large-scale management planning and may be a factor associated with the observed lack of application of available STMs • Standardization of ecological site mapping tools for GIS platforms would increase the utility of DRGs, STMs, and ecological site descriptions for many land managers in the western United States.
    • Case Study: Application of Ecological Site Information to Transformative Changes on Great Basin Sagebrush Rangelands

      Williams, C. Jason; Pierson, Frederick B.; Spaeth, Kenneth E.; Brown, Joel R.; Al-Hamdan, Osama Z.; Weltz, Mark A.; Nearing, Mark A.; Herrick, Jeffrey E.; Boll, Jan; Robichaud, Peter R.; et al. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • The utility of ecological site descriptions (ESD) in the management of rangelands hinges on their ability to characterize and predict plant community change, the associated ecological consequences, and ecosystem responsiveness to management. • We demonstrate how enhancement of ESDs with key ecohydrologic information can aid predictions of ecosystem response and targeting of conservation practices for sagebrush rangelands that are strongly regulated by ecohydrologic or ecogeomorphic feedbacks. • The primary point of this work is that ESD concepts are flexible and can be creatively augmented for improved assessment and management of rangelands.