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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #270906

Title: A simple graphical approach to quantitative monitoring of rangelands

item RIGINOS, C - Princeton University
item Herrick, Jeffrey - Jeff
item SUNDARESAN, S - Denver Zoological Gardens
item FARLEY, CARY - Mara North Conservancy
item BELNAP, JAYNE - Us Geological Survey (USGS)

Submitted to: Rangelands
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/30/2011
Publication Date: 8/22/2011
Citation: Riginos, C., Herrick, J.E., Sundaresan, S.R., Farley, C., Belnap, J. 2011. A simple graphical approach to quantitative monitoring of rangelands. Rangelands. 33(4):6-13.

Interpretive Summary: This article describes a simple, new rangeland health monitoring system. All data for a plot are recorded on a single sheet of paper. Four methods are included on the sheet: (1) vegetation cover (litter, grass, forb, shrub and tree) at 100 points, (2) presence of large gaps in the vegetation and 20 locations, (3) maximum vegetation height in 20 microplots, and (4) plant density in up to 20 variable-sized sub-plots. Calculations for all indicators are included on the same sheet, and plot characteristics (soil, topography, disturbance, etc...) is described using simple checklists on the back of the sheet. The only equipment required is a 1m (or 1 yard) stick.

Technical Abstract: Long-term monitoring is an essential part of good rangeland management – but is often overlooked because managers perceive it to be complicated, technical, or time-consuming. We introduce a quick, easy, and quantitative approach to monitoring changes in plant and ground cover, plant density, and vegetation structure. The only tools needed are a stick 1m long, a pencil, and the data sheet. For each site, data can be collected in under an hour, and monitoring indicators can be calculated by hand in a matter of minutes. This approach has broad appeal and relevance to managers and practitioners around the world.