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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Transitions in Rangeland Evaluations: a Review of the Major Transitions in Rangeland Evaluations During the Last 25 Years and Speculation About Future Evaluations

Authors
item Pyke, D - USGS
item Herrick, Jeffrey

Submitted to: Rangelands
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 30, 2003
Publication Date: January 1, 2004
Citation: Pyke, D.A., Herrick, J.E. 2004. Transitions in rangeland evaluations: a review of the major transitions in rangeland evaluations during the last 25 years and speculation about future evaluations. Rangelands. 25(6):22-30.

Interpretive Summary: Interpretive summary not required.

Technical Abstract: Historically, rangeland evaluations have been concerned with the inventory and monitoring of upland physical and biological characteristics. Vascular plant composition was a critical measure for determining rangeland condition and trend. Managers used key areas and key forage species to determine if livestock and wildlife appropriately used the available land area and its forage. Over the years, the principle reasons for evaluating rangelands have remained the same. They are to determine the current status and trend of the natural resources on rangelands. However, we began to recognize that the traditional rangeland condition classification system and the successional model on which it was based had severe limitations when applied to many semiarid and arid rangelands. We reevaluated our views of succession and the relationship between those views and the status of rangelands. We broadened our areas of concern from uplands only to include wetlands and riparian areas. In addition, we looked beyond the impacts of only our primary use of an individually fenced unit, which was often livestock grazing, to multiple uses and units within a watershed or multiple watersheds within a basin. New assessment techniques are attempting to link abiotic with biotic factors and to integrate them into evaluations of ecosystem status on rangelands. Remote sensing tools now provide a means to evaluate larger areas. Future evaluations will examine the sustainability of rangelands, but they will need to develop acceptable measures of not just biological and physical factors, but also social and economic factors relating to rangelands.

Last Modified: 12/20/2014
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