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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR ARID RANGELANDS Title: Terrestrail indicators and measurements: Selection process and preliminary recommendations

Authors
item Herrick, Jeffrey
item Wills, Skye -
item Pyke, David -

Submitted to: Government Publication/Report
Publication Type: Government Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: February 1, 2010
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: The objective of this project is to identify a small set of core indicators and measurements that can be applied across rangeland, forest and riparian ecosystems managed by the BLM. A set of core indicators quantified using standardized measurements allows data to be integrated across field office, district and state boundaries. Indicators were selected through a five-step participatory process involving both BLM and outside experts. Nearly 200 individuals participated during a three month period from August – November 2008.Five Core indicators are recommended for application wherever BLM implements quantitative soil and/or vegetation trend monitoring: (1) bare ground, (2) vegetation composition, (3) non-native invasive species, (4) plant species of management concern, and (5) vegetation height. The indicators are also relevant to many assessment objectives. Of the five, the first four can be collected with the same method, and vegetation height is measured along the same transect. All can be addressed to some degree with remote sensing (where remote sensing is understood to include both satellite and aircraft), supported by ground measurements at a limited number of plots. Four ‘Contingent’ indicators were also identified: (1) stand density index (SDI), (2) proportion of soil surface in large intercanopy gaps, (3) soil aggregate stability, and (4) significant accumulation of toxins. These indicators only need to be collected where reliable estimates cannot be generated from the core indicators and/or other sources of information. For example, SDI is not necessary in most of the Mojave Desert because it can be reliably predicted to be zero based on climate. Four indicators are recommended for further study and potential future inclusion as Core or Contingent indicators: fragmentation, soil carbon, erosion, and soil compaction. Indicators that were considered but not selected are discussed at the end of the report.

Last Modified: 11/24/2014