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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR ARID RANGELANDS

Location: Range Management Research

Title: National ecosystem assessments supported by scientific and local knowledge

Authors
item Herrick, Jeffrey
item Lessard, Veronica -
item Spaeth, Kenneth -
item Shaver, Patrick -
item Dayton, Robert -
item Pyke, David -
item Jolley, Leonard -
item Goebel, J. Jeffery -

Submitted to: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 24, 2010
Publication Date: October 1, 2010
Repository URL: http://handle.net/10113/45178
Citation: Herrick, J.E., Lessard, V.C., Spaeth, K.E., Shaver, P.L., Dayton, R.S., Pyke, D.A., Jolley, L., Goebel, J. 2010. National ecosystem assessments supported by scientific and local knowledge. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 8(8):403-408.

Interpretive Summary: Land managers and policy-makers require high quality data supported by science to make informed decisions. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) with support from the Agricultural Research Service collected data at over 10,000 plots on non-federal rangelands in the United States. The results showed that while soil degradation remains an issue, loss of biotic integrity is more widespread. Quantitative soil and vegetation data collected at the same locations support the assessments and serve as a baseline for monitoring the effectiveness of policy and management, including responses to climate change.

Technical Abstract: An understanding of the extent and severity of land degradation and recovery is necessary to guide land use policy and management, yet currently available assessments are widely known to be inadequate. We describe results of the first statistically-based application of a new approach to national assessments that integrates scientific and local knowledge. Qualitative observations completed at over 10,000 plots in the United States showed that while soil degradation remains an issue, loss of biotic integrity is more widespread. Quantitative soil and vegetation data collected at the same locations support the assessments and serve as a baseline for monitoring the effectiveness of policy and management, including responses to climate change. For example, non-native species currently occur on nearly 50% of non-federal rangelands, and account for at least 50% of plant cover on over 5% of these lands. These results provide information necessary to support strategic decisions by land managers and policy-makers.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014