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ARS Home » Plains Area » Woodward, Oklahoma » Rangeland and Pasture Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #333573

Research Project: Sustaining Southern Plains Landscapes through Plant Genetics and Sound Forage-Livestock Production Systems

Location: Rangeland and Pasture Research

Title: Weather tools for retrospective assessment of restoration outcomes

item Moffet, Corey
item Hardegree, Stuart
item ABATZOGLOU, JOHN - University Of Idaho
item HEGEWISCH, KATHERINE - University Of Idaho
item REUTER, RYAN - Oklahoma State University
item Sheley, Roger
item BRUNSON, MARK - Utah State University
item Flerchinger, Gerald
item Boehm, Alex

Submitted to: Rangeland Ecology and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/31/2018
Publication Date: 12/15/2018
Publication URL:
Citation: Moffet, C., Hardegree, S.P., Abatzoglou, J.T., Hegewisch, K.C., Reuter, R., Sheley, R.L., Brunson, M.W., Flerchinger, G.N., Boehm, A.R. 2018. Weather tools for retrospective assessment of restoration outcomes. Rangeland Ecology and Management. 72(2):225-229.

Interpretive Summary: Millions of acres of sagebrush/bunchgrass rangeland in the intermountain western US are being replaced by introduced annual weeds that proliferate after wildfire. Restoration of these lands is difficult, however, due to frequent drought and relatively low probability of favorable conditions for seedling establishment. Development of effective restoration strategies will require better tools for understanding and characterizing weather and soil microclimate impacts on early plant establishment. We used newly available gridded-weather data to develop a set of web-based tools for describing annual, seasonal and monthly variability in local weather and soil microclimate as it might affect germination, emergence and seedling establishment in western rangeland systems. This tool can be used directly by land managers to interpret weather effects on rangeland seeding success after wildfire, and by scientists to interpret field treatment results relative to the full spectrum of weather that may be possible at an individual field site.

Technical Abstract: Rangeland seeding practices in the intermountain western United States are typically implemented in a single planting season for the purposes of Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation (ESR) after wildfire. This necessarily links restoration and rehabilitation success to the probability of a single year providing sufficiently favorable microclimatic conditions for desirable plant establishment. Field research studies in rangeland restoration are also typically of limited duration and published results may not represent the full spectrum of conditions likely to be experienced at a given site. We propose that location-specific and temporal weather-analysis may enhance the interpretation of historical planting data, support expanded inferences from short-term field studies, and facilitate meta-analysis of diverse field studies in rangeland restoration. We describe access and use of new databases and tools that can be used for this purpose, and suggest some standard graphs and weather metrics to establish a longer-term perspective for the interpretation of rangeland-restoration field results. Tools of this type may also be useful in the interpretation of a wide range of agricultural and natural resource applications that are driven by similar weather inputs, particularly in arid and semi-arid systems that exhibit high annual and seasonal variability in precipitation and temperature.