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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Great Basin Ecological Site Development

Location: Great Basin Rangelands Research

2012 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
The University of Nevada at Reno, under the direction of a UNR professor and scientist, is undertaking a cooperative project with the Agricultural Research Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to develop state-and-transition models appropriate for describing the ecological dynamics of ecological sites located within Major Land Resource Areas (MLRA) 28A and 28B in Nevada. These models will describe the ecological response to a variety of disturbances associated with rangelands and also will be utilized to document the status of knowledge regarding the effect of conservation practices applied to rangelands within the Great Basin. The primary purpose is to construct state-of-the-art ecological dynamics models that will provide the platform for management decisions and generation of hypotheses for testing threshold and restoration concepts. The work will focus on the development of robust state-and-transition models for each of the 160 ecological sites within MLRA 28A and 28B. These models are a critical component of the Ecological Site Description and are utilized by the Natural Resource Conservation Service, United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management for planning and implementation of conservation practices and management actions.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
The University of Nevada at Reno (UNR) will assist in synthesizing the appropriate literature to document the effect of conservation practices on five basic resource concerns; (1) water availability, (2) water quality, (3) Soil quality, (4) Net Primary Productivity, and (5) habitat/landscape fragmentation for the Great Basin. They will also assist in developing an experimental watershed(s) in central Nevada where impacts of conservation practices can be quantified at both the hillslope and watershed scales.


3.Progress Report:

This research directly supports objective 2: Devise management guidelines, technologies, and practices for conserving and restoring Great Basin rangelands. Specifically Sub-objective 2.1: Develop an integrated package of ground-based and remote sensing tools to quantify and assess the environmental impact of management decisions and conservation practices at hillslope and landscape scales in woodland, shrub-steppe, and desert ecosystems of the Great Basin.

This report documents the progress being made by the interagency team that was formed to develop new Ecological Site Descriptions for Nevada and provide training on use of this material for effective natural management decisions. Project was initiated in FY 2012 and is closely aligned with Project No: 5370-11220-006-20S and 5370-11220-006-19S. Four meetings have been held with BLM, NRCS, and University of Nevada, Reno scientific partners to design the project. Field work has been initiated and 20 preliminary Ecological Site Descriptions have been developed by the team. In addition, the team hosted a workshop for 60 federal employees with the Society for Range Management to train agency staff in the use and development of Ecological Site Descriptions. Four meetings have been held with BLM, NRCS, and University of Nevada, Reno scientific partners to design the project. Field work has been initiated and 20 preliminary Ecological Site Descriptions have been developed by the team. In addition, the team hosted a workshop for 60 federal employees with the Society for Range Management to train agency staff in the use and development of Ecological Site Descriptions.


Last Modified: 9/22/2014
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