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This collection is of articles that cited the Monitoring Manual for Grassland, Shrubland, and Savanna Ecosystems, 1st Edition (2005).

Description

The Monitoring Manual describes how to monitor three rangeland attributes: soil and site stability, watershed function, and biotic integrity. Specific recommendations are made for designing monitoring programs to address issues including livestock production, wildlife habitat, fire, and invasive species. The use of state and transition models to help design monitoring programs sensitive to significant changes is also explained.

latest article added on June 2014

ArticleFirst AuthorPublished
Hydrologic Vulnerability of Sagebrush Steppe Following Pinyon and Juniper Encroachment.Pierson, Frederick B2010

Hydrologic Vulnerability of Sagebrush Steppe Following Pinyon and Juniper Encroachment.

Keywords

erosion ; infiltration ; runoff ; SageSTEP ; soil water repellency

Abstract

Woodland encroachment on United States rangelands has altered the structure and function of shrub steppe ecosystems. The potential community structure is one where trees dominate, shrub and herbaceous species decline, and rock cover and bare soil area increase and become more interconnected. Research from the Desert Southwest United States has demonstrated areas under tree canopies effectively store water and soil resources, whereas areas between canopies (intercanopy) generate significantly more runoff and erosion. We investigated these relationships and the impacts of tree encroachment on runoff and erosion processes at two woodland sites in the Intermountain West, USA. Rainfall simulation and concentrated flow methodologies were employed to measure infiltration, runoff, and erosion from intercanopy and canopy areas at small-plot (0.5 m2) and large-plot (13 m2) scales. Soil water repellency and vegetative and ground cover factors that influence runoff and erosion were quantified. Runoff and erosion from rainsplash, sheet flow, and concentrated flow processes were significantly greater from intercanopy than canopy areas across small- and large-plot scales, and site-specific erodibility differences were observed. Runoff and erosion were primarily dictated by the type and quantity of ground cover. Litter offered protection from rainsplash effects, provided rainfall storage, mitigated soil water repellency impacts on infiltration, and contributed to aggregate stability. Runoff and erosion increased exponentially (r2=0.75 and 0.64) where bare soil and rock cover exceeded 50%. Sediment yield was strongly correlated (r2=0.87) with runoff and increased linearly where runoff exceeded 20 mm·h−1. Measured runoff and erosion rates suggest tree canopies represent areas of hydrologic stability, whereas intercanopy areas are vulnerable to runoff and erosion. Results indicate the overall hydrologic vulnerability of sagebrush steppe following woodland encroachment depends on the potential influence of tree dominance on bare intercanopy expanse and connectivity and the potential erodibility of intercanopy areas.

Authors

Frederick B Pierson, C. J Williams, Patrick R Kormos, Stuart P Hardegree, Patrick E Clark, Benjamin M Rau

Year Published

2010

Publication

Rangeland Ecology & Management

Locations
DOI

10.2111/REM-D-09-00148.1

Biological soil crusts exhibit a dynamic response to seasonal rain and release from grazing with implications for soil stability.Jimenez Aguilar, A.2009

Biological soil crusts exhibit a dynamic response to seasonal rain and release from grazing with implications for soil stability.

Keywords

BSC morphotypes ; Erosion ; Functional role ; Grazing removal ; Plant crust interaction ; Seasonal changes

Abstract

In Northern Mexico, long-term grazing has substantially degraded semiarid landscapes. In semiarid systems, ecological and hydrological processes are strongly coupled by patchy plant distribution and biological soil crust (BSC) cover in plant-free interspaces. In this study, we asked: 1) how responsive are BSC cover/composition to a drying/wetting cycle and two-year grazing removal, and 2) what are the implications for soil erosion? We characterized BSC morphotypes and their influence on soil stability under grazed/non-grazed conditions during a dry and wet season. Light- and dark-colored cyanobacteria were dominant at the plant tussock and community level. Cover changes in these two groups differed after a rainy season and in response to grazing removal. Lichens with continuous thalli were more vulnerable to grazing than those with semi-continuous/discontinuous thalli after the dry season. Microsites around tussocks facilitated BSC colonization compared to interspaces. Lichen and cyanobacteria morphotypes differentially enhanced resistance to soil erosion; consequently, surface soil stability depends on the spatial distribution of BSC morphotypes, suggesting soil stability may be as dynamic as changes in the type of BSC cover. Longer-term spatially detailed studies are necessary to elicit spatiotemporal dynamics of BSC communities and their functional role in biotically and abiotically variable environments.

Authors

A. Jimenez Aguilar, E. Huber-Sannwald, J. Belnap, D.R. Smart, J.T. Arredondo Moreno

Year Published

2009

Publication

Journal of Arid Environments

Locations
DOI

10.1016/j.jaridenv.2009.05.009

Precision, Repeatability, and Efficiency of Two Canopy-Cover Estimate Methods in Northern Great Plains Vegetation.Symstad, Amy J2008

Precision, Repeatability, and Efficiency of Two Canopy-Cover Estimate Methods in Northern Great Plains Vegetation.

Keywords

grassland ; observer error ; plant canopy cover ; point-frequency method ; vegetation monitoring ; visual estimates

Abstract

Government agencies are subject to increasing public scrutiny of land management practices. Consequently, rigorous, yet efficient, monitoring protocols are needed to provide defensible quantitative data on the status and trends of rangeland vegetation. Rigor requires precise, repeatable measures, whereas efficiency requires the greatest possible information content for the amount of resources spent acquiring the information. We compared two methods--point frequency and visual estimate--of measuring canopy cover of individual plant species and groups of species (forbs vs. graminoids, native vs. nonnative) and plant species richness. These methods were compared in a variety of grassland vegetation types of the northern Great Plains for their precision, repeatability, and efficiency. Absolute precision of estimates was similar, but values generally differed between the two sampling methods. The point-frequency method yielded significantly higher values than the visual-estimate method for cover by individual species, graminoid cover, and total cover, and yielded significantly lower values for broadleaf (forb + shrub) cover and species richness. Differences in values derived by different sampling teams using the same method were similar between methods and within precision levels for many variables. Species richness and median species cover were the major exceptions; for these, the point-frequency method was far less repeatable. As performed in this study, the visual-estimate method required approximately twice the time as did the point-frequency method, but the former captured 55% more species. Overall, the visual-estimate method of measuring plant cover was more consistent among observers than anticipated, because of strong training, and captured considerably more species. However, its greater sampling time could reduce the number of samples and, therefore, reduce the statistical power of a sampling design if time is a limiting factor.

Authors

Amy J Symstad, Cody L Wienk, Andy D Thorstenson

Year Published

2008

Publication

Rangeland Ecology & Management

Locations
DOI

10.2111/08-010.1

Biogeochemical and ecological impacts of livestock grazing in semi-arid southeastern Utah, USAD.P., J.C. Neff,, ez,2008

Biogeochemical and ecological impacts of livestock grazing in semi-arid southeastern Utah, USA

Keywords

Magnetic susceptibility ; Moran's index ; Nitrogen ; Soil organic carbon

Abstract

Relatively few studies have examined the ecological and biogeochemical effects of livestock grazing in southeastern Utah. In this study, we evaluated how grazing has affected soil organic carbon and nitrogen to a depth of 50 cm in grasslands located in relict and actively-grazed sites in the Canyonlands physiographic section of the Colorado Plateau. We also evaluated differences in plant ground cover and the spatial distribution of soil resources. Results show that areas used by domestic livestock have 20% less plant cover and 100% less soil organic carbon and nitrogen compared to relict sites browsed by native ungulates. In actively grazed sites, domestic livestock grazing also appears to lead to clustered, rather than random, spatial distribution of soil resources. Magnetic susceptibility, a proxy for soil stability in this region, suggests that grazing increases soil erosion leading to an increase in the area of nutrient-depleted bare ground. Overall, these results, combined with previous studies in the region, suggest that livestock grazing affects both plant cover and soil fertility with potential long-term implications for the sustainability of grazing operations in this semi-arid landscape.

Authors

ez, D.P., J.C. Neff,

Year Published

2008

Publication

Journal of Arid Environments

Locations
DOI

10.1016/j.jaridenv.2007.10.009

Comparison of Point Intercept and Image Analysis for Monitoring Rangeland Transects.Cagney, J2011

Comparison of Point Intercept and Image Analysis for Monitoring Rangeland Transects.

Keywords

cover measurement ; land management ; SamplePoint ; Type-II error risk ; vegetation sampling

Abstract

There is global recognition that sustainable land use requires monitoring that will detect change on a scale that protects the resource. That fundamental necessity is threatened where labor-intensive methods and high labor costs cause sampling deficiencies and increased Type-II error rates (false negatives). Ground-based imaging is a monitoring method that reduces monitoring labor costs. Nadir (vertical) images acquired with common digital cameras can be manually analyzed for cover using free software. We used an innovative field protocol to acquire standardized, freehand, nadir images (samples) of rangeland, then compared point intercept (PI) and image-analysis techniques. Between methods, precision (repeatability) across users was equivalent; cover measurements were often different, and the image-analysis technique took only a third as long to complete. Image analysis has several advantages over PI besides the reduced labor cost: Images are permanent resource records available for reanalysis if data are questioned, if software improves, or if management objectives change; and image analysis is less biased by moving vegetation, moving pointing devices, and bright vegetation color.

Authors

J Cagney, S. E Cox, D. T Booth

Year Published

2011

Publication

Rangeland Ecology & Management

Locations
DOI

10.2111/REM-D-10-00090.1

Effects of soil degradation on infiltration rates in grazed semiarid rangelands of northeastern Patagonia, Argentina.Chartier, M.P.2011

Effects of soil degradation on infiltration rates in grazed semiarid rangelands of northeastern Patagonia, Argentina.

Keywords

Desertification ; Erosion ; Infiltration ; Semiarid hydrology ; Soil degradation ; Vegetation patches

Abstract

In grazed semiarid ecosystems, considerable spatial variability in soil infiltration exists as a result of vegetation and soil patchiness. Despite widespread recognition that important interactions and feedbacks occur between vegetation, runoff and erosion, currently there is only limited quantitative information on the control mechanisms that lead to differences in infiltration from different vegetation types. In this paper, we determine (i) the relationship between vegetation and soil surface characteristics and (ii) the soil infiltration rate by using rainfall simulations on runoff plots (0.60 * 1.67 m) in three plant communities of northeastern Patagonia: grass (GS), degraded grass with scattered shrubs (DGS), and degraded shrub steppes (DSS). Our results clearly indicate that vegetation and soil infiltration are closely coupled. Total infiltration was significantly higher in the GS (69.6 mm) compared with the DGS and DSS (42.9 and 28.5 mm, respectively). In the GS, soil infiltration rate declined more slowly than the others communities, reaching a terminal infiltration rate significantly greater (57.7 mm) than those of DGS and DSS (25.7 and 12.9 mm, respectively). The high rate of water losses via overland-flow may limit the possibilities for grass seedling emergence and establishment and favor the persistent dominance of shrubs.

Authors

M.P. Chartier, C.M. Rostagno, G.E. Pazos

Year Published

2011

Publication

Journal of Arid Environments

Locations
DOI

10.1016/j.jaridenv.2011.02.007

Use of resources by the subterranean rodent Ctenomys mendocinus (Rodentia, Ctenomyidae), in the lowland Monte desert, Argentina.Albanese, S.2010

Use of resources by the subterranean rodent Ctenomys mendocinus (Rodentia, Ctenomyidae), in the lowland Monte desert, Argentina.

Keywords

Diet ; Fossorial ; Habitat use ; Herbivory ; Heterogeneity ; Soil properties

Abstract

The feedback between organisms and their environment is of great relevance to the understanding of ecosystem functioning. Particularly, subterranean mammals living on desert systems play an important role in ecosystem processes modifying their environment and influencing the life strategies of plants and animals. The mendocino tuco-tuco Ctenomys mendocinus, is a fossorial rodent inhabiting a wide range of soil and climate conditions in the central arid lands of Argentina. The purpose of our study was to quantify the degree of environmental segregation: soil properties and vegetation in four habitat types, their impact on woody vegetation, and diet. The highest activity was recorded in sand dunes and was associated with high habitat heterogeneity and soft soils. Degree of herbivory varied among habitats, with Lycium (Solanaceae) being the most gnawed shrub. Tuco-tucos behave like folivorous grazers, feeding on leaves of grasses, mostly Panicum (Poaceae). This is the first study integrating multiple approaches of tucos' auto-ecology in a heterogeneous desert matrix, suggesting a differential use of its environment, possibly according to food supply and soil hardness. Despite life underground impose general constrains for most subterranean species, our results suggest that both above and under ground habitat features play important roles in the occurrence of fossorial rodents.

Authors

S. Albanese, D. Rodríguez, M.A. Dacar, R.A. Ojeda

Year Published

2010

Publication

Journal of Arid Environments

Locations
DOI

10.1016/j.jaridenv.2009.10.011

Spatial Predictions of Cover Attributes of Rangeland Ecosystems Using Regression Kriging and Remote Sensing.Karl, Jason W2010

Spatial Predictions of Cover Attributes of Rangeland Ecosystems Using Regression Kriging and Remote Sensing.

Keywords

Bromus tectorum ; geostatistics ; Idaho ; landscape-scale assessment ; shrub cover ; statistical modeling

Abstract

Sound rangeland management requires accurate information on rangeland condition over large landscapes. A commonly applied approach to making spatial predictions of attributes related to rangeland condition (e.g., shrub or bare ground cover) from remote sensing is via regression between field and remotely sensed data. This has worked well in some situations but has limited utility when correlations between field and image data are low and it does not take advantage of all information contained in the field data. I compared spatial predictions from generalized least-squares (GLS) regression to a geostatistical interpolator, regression kriging (RK), for three rangeland attributes (percent cover of shrubs, bare ground, and cheatgrass [Bromus tectorum L.]) in a southern Idaho study area. The RK technique combines GLS regression with spatial interpolation of the residuals to improve predictions of rangeland condition attributes over large landscapes. I employed a remote-sensing technique, object-based image analysis (OBIA), to segment Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper images into polygons (i.e., objects) because previous research has shown that OBIA yields higher image-to-field data correlations and can be used to select appropriate scales for analysis. Spatial dependence, the decrease in autocorrelation with increasing distance, was strongest for percent shrub cover (samples autocorrelated up to a distance [i.e., range] of 19098 m) but present in all three variables (range of 12646 m and 768 m for bare ground and cheatgrass cover, respectively). As a result, RK produced more accurate results than GLS regression alone for all three attributes when predicted versus observed values of each attribute were measured by leave-one-out cross validation. The results of RK could be used in assessments of rangeland conditions over large landscapes. The ability to create maps quantifying how prediction confidence changes with distance from field samples is a significant benefit of regression kriging and makes this approach suitable for landscape-level management planning.

Authors

Jason W Karl

Year Published

2010

Publication

Rangeland Ecology & Management

Locations
DOI

10.2111/REM-D-09-00074.1

Plant Interspaces Resulting From Contrasting Grazing Management in Northern Mixed-Grass Prairie: Implications for Ecosystem Function.Derner, Justin D2008

Plant Interspaces Resulting From Contrasting Grazing Management in Northern Mixed-Grass Prairie: Implications for Ecosystem Function.

Keywords

fetches ; gap intercept ; grassland structure ; hydrologic function ; indicator ; monitoring ; rangeland health ; site integrity ; vegetation heterogeneity

Abstract

We assessed plant interspaces in July 2007 using continuous line intercepts in twice-replicated pastures of northern mixed-grass prairie with contrasting grazing treatments: 1) long-term (25 yr) heavily grazed, dominated by the bunchgrass blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis), and 2) ungrazed, dominated by the rhizomatous grass western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii). The number of plant interspaces was 26% higher in pastures heavily grazed, but the amount of soil surface occupied by plant interspaces was 27% greater without grazing. Plant interspaces were larger without grazing (14.8±1.2 cm, mean±1 SE) than heavily grazed (8.9±0.4 cm). Plant interspaces represented 87% and 68% of the total soil surface in the ungrazed and heavily grazed communities, respectively. The percentage of soil surface covered by plant interspaces <20 cm was higher for the heavily grazed (94%) compared to the ungrazed (79%). Litter cover in the plant interspaces was higher without grazing (80±1%) compared to the heavily grazed (57±3%). Grazing-induced structural changes from a rhizomatous- to a bunchgrass-dominated vegetation community were manifest in the size and distribution of plant interspaces. Ecological consequences for erosion from raindrop impacts in larger plant interspaces in the ungrazed community are likely offset by greater litter cover in these communities; conversely, lower litter cover in heavily grazed pastures may increase erosion potential despite occurrence of smaller plant interspaces and less proportion of the soil surface covered by interspaces. Management practices that increase the cover of litter in plant interspaces should reduce the potential of erosion from water and wind in this semiarid rangeland.

Authors

Justin D Derner, Ashley J Whitman

Year Published

2008

Publication

Rangeland Ecology & Management

Locations
DOI

10.2111/08-098

Assessing Transportation Infrastructure Impacts on Rangelands: Test of a Standard Rangeland Assessment ProtocolDuniway, Michael C.2010

Assessing Transportation Infrastructure Impacts on Rangelands: Test of a Standard Rangeland Assessment Protocol

Keywords

disturbance; indicators; off-highway vehicles; oil and gas; rangeland health; roads

Abstract

Linear disturbances associated with on-and off-road vehicle use on rangelands has increased dramatically throughout the world in recent decades. This increase is due to a variety of factors including increased availability of all-terrain vehicles, infrastructure development (oil, gas, renewable energy, and ex-urban), and recreational activities. In addition to the direct impacts of road development, the presence and use of roads may alter resilience of adjoining areas through indirect effects such as altered site hydrologic and eolian processes, invasive seed dispersal, and sediment transport. There are few standardized methods for assessing impacts of transportation-related land-use activities on soils and vegetation in arid and semi-arid rangelands. Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health (IIRH) is an internationally accepted qualitative assessment that is applied widely to rangelands. We tested the sensitivity of IIRH to impacts of roads, trails, and pipelines on adjacent lands by surveying plots at three distances from these linear disturbances. We performed tests at 16 randomly selected sites in each of three ecosystems (Northern High Plains, Colorado Plateau, and Chihuahuan Desert) for a total of 208 evaluation plots. We also evaluated the repeatability of IIRH when applied to road-related disturbance gradients. Finally, we tested extent of correlations between IIRH plot attribute departure classes and trends in a suite of quantitative indicators. Results indicated that the IIRH technique is sensitive to direct and indirect impacts of transportation activities with greater departure from reference condition near disturbances than far from disturbances. Trends in degradation of ecological processes detected with qualitative assessments were highly correlated with quantitative data. Qualitative and quantitative assessments employed in this study can be used to assess impacts of transportation features at the plot scale. Through integration with remote sensing technologies, these methods could also potentially be used to assess cumulative impacts of transportation networks at the landscape scale.

Authors

Duniway, Michael C.; Herrick, Jeffrey E.; Pyke, David A.; Toledo, David P.

Year Published

2010

Publication

Rangeland Ecology & Management

Locations
DOI

10.2111/REM-D-09-00176.1

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Local observations of ecological change are important in developing tools for rangeland management and filling in gaps where quantitative data are lacking. Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) is a potential source of information that can complement scientific knowledge. It may also allow policy makers and scientists to suggest responses that will be locally relevant, and therefore effective ...

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