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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR ARID RANGELANDS Title: A Landscape Approach to Rangeland Conservation Practices

Authors
item Bestelmeyer, Brandon
item Brown, Joel -
item Fuhlendorf, Sam -
item Fults, Gene -
item Wu, X Ben -

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: June 23, 2010
Publication Date: October 15, 2011
Citation: Bestelmeyer, B.T., Brown, J., Fuhlendorf, S., Fults, G., Wu, X. 2011. A Landscape Approach to Rangeland Conservation Practices. In: Briske, D.D., editor. Conservation Benefits of Rangeland Practices: Assessment, Recommendations, and Knowledge Gaps. Lawrence, Kansas: Allen Press. p. 337-370.

Interpretive Summary: In this chapter, we review the use of landscape perspectives in the design of conservation practices to preserve or restore desired conditions in rangelands. Practitioners should consider several scales of spatial pattern and related spatial processes, including cumulative effects, each time a practice is applied. A large body of literature supports the utility of a landscape perspective. The core concepts include spatial heterogeneity, spatial pattern, and spatial scaling. Spatial heterogeneity is used to understand why a practice succeeds or fails in different areas. Spatial heterogeneity can also be a primary goal of practices. Spatial patterns are used to indicate critical processes that are not reflected in other measures, such as connectivity for wildlife movement or runoff and erosion potential. Patterns too can be a conservation objective. Spatial scaling is used to understand the dimensions of the land area over which spatial interactions link practices in one place to effects in other places, and conversely, how characteristics of the landscape affect the local success of a practice. The concepts are increasingly being connected to practical tools that can be used by planners.

Technical Abstract: Our review indicates that landscape perspectives are needed to ensure the long-term success conservation practices in rangelands. We recommend that conservation practitioners consider several scales of spatial pattern and related spatial processes, including cumulative effects, each time a practice is applied. A large body of literature supports the utility of a landscape perspective. The core concepts include spatial heterogeneity, spatial pattern, and spatial scaling. Spatial heterogeneity is used to understand why a practice succeeds or fails in different areas. Spatial heterogeneity can also be a primary goal of practices. Spatial patterns are used to indicate critical processes that are not reflected in other measures, such as connectivity for wildlife movement or runoff and erosion potential. Patterns too can be a conservation objective. Spatial scaling is used to understand the dimensions of the land area over which spatial interactions link practices in one place to effects in other places, and conversely, how characteristics of the landscape affect the local success of a practice. The concepts are increasingly being connected to practical tools that can be used by planners. The tools can be used both to help design practices and to design the monitoring programs that evaluate their effects. A spatial hierarchy focuses attention on the data needed at each spatial scale governing ecological processes of interest. In order of decreasing scale, major land resource areas, soil geomorphic systems, watersheds, ecological sites, states or plant communities, and patches each relate to processes governing the management of rangelands. Furthermore, consideration of societal information such as land ownership is usually needed at broad scales. Each of these data sources can be consulted in a systematic way, which we described in nine steps, to design and evaluate practices in a landscape. While some of the tools are already used by conservation planners, the development of others will require a scientific and institutional investment by the federal government and support by universities and other science providers. Spatial data information systems should be developed that link maps, models, and pattern-based metrics to support planning and monitoring design. Databases are needed to house the resulting data alongside information on their landscape context. The interpretations of these data should be linked to ESDs. Foremost, we must invest in training and research to instill an understanding of the concepts and a capacity for reasoning about landscape processes. We suspect that such investments would pay for themselves, and then some, by improving conservation effectiveness in the millions of acres of rangelands that will be treated in years to come.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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