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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DISTURBANCE ASSESSMENT AND MITIGATION OF GREAT BASIN RANGELAND

Location: Northwest Watershed Management Research

Title: Weather variability, ecological processes and optimization of soil micro-environment for rangeland restoration

Authors
item Hardegree, Stuart
item Cho, Jaepil
item Schneider, Jeanne

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: July 27, 2011
Publication Date: December 1, 2012
Citation: Hardegree, S.P., Cho, J., Schneider, J.M. 2012. Weather variability, ecological processes and optimization of soil micro-environment for rangeland restoration. In: Monaco, T.A. and Sheley, R.L., editors. Invasive Plant Ecology and Management: Linking Processes to Practice. Wallingford, Oxon: CAB International. p. 107-121.

Interpretive Summary: Weather is the primary factor that limits rangeland restoration success in arid and semi-arid rangelands. Weather data are seldom used, however, in restoration management planning except retrospectively to explain establishment failure. In this chapter, we summarized climatic controls on seedbed microclimate, management impacts on the availability of water and heat in the seedbed, and the use of weather and climate data in management planning, restoration monitoring, and adaptive management. We also described access and use of weather datasets, and the potential use of long-term weather forecasting for making management decisions for fall-dormant planting. Use of weather and climate data in planning, assessment and adaptive management could significantly increase the probability of restoration success, and increase the efficiency of resource allocation for restoration management.

Technical Abstract: Arid and semi-arid rangelands occupy over half of the earth’s surface and are characterized by relatively high variability in seasonal and annual patterns of precipitation. Invasive plants compete for soil and water resources and exacerbate inherent weather limitations for native plant establishment. Management guidelines for restoring native plant diversity on weed-infested rangelands are driven by actions designed to optimize water availability to desirable plant species during critical establishment periods, but climatological information is generally used only to make initial decisions about general species suitability for a given site. More detailed seasonal weather information is often available, but is commonly only used retrospectively to explain seeding failure. Current state-and-transition models acknowledge that there are a limited set of potential trajectories for moving between undesirable and desirable vegetation states. Current ecological site descriptions include general climate information such as annual precipitation ranges, average monthly temperature minima and maxima, seasonality, and growing-season characteristics but do not address the probabilities associated with transition pathways that are influenced by weather variability. Inclusion of site-specific information on weather variability may improve the utility of these site descriptions and models for rehabilitation and restoration planning. Further development of relatively long term (3, 6, 9 month) weather forecasts would greatly improve our ability to plan effective restoration strategies on arid and semi-arid rangelands.

Last Modified: 8/29/2014