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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #337201

Title: Applying ecological site concepts to adaptive conservation management on an iconic Californian landscape

item Spiegal, Sheri
item BARTOLOME, JAMES - University Of California
item WHITE, MICHAEL - Non ARS Employee

Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/20/2017
Publication Date: 1/29/2017
Citation: Spiegal, S.A., Bartolome, J.W., White, M.D. 2017. Applying ecological site concepts to adaptive conservation management on an iconic Californian landscape[abstract]. 2017 Society for Range Management Meeting, January 29-February 2, 2017, St. George, Utah.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Tejon Ranch is a spectacular landscape valued for its biological diversity, livestock production, and cultural heritage. Situated at the convergence of three of California’s major biogeographic zones, it is the largest, contiguous private property in the state. Since 2008, the ranch has operated under a conservation agreement tailored toward conservation and economic outcomes. We developed an ecological site group model to inform adaptive conservation-focused grazing on 40,000 ha of grasslands on the ranch. Each ecological site group (ESG) is based on a “geologic landform” class: a unique combination of biogeographic region, geologic material and age, dominant formative geomorphology, elevation, and slope that supports a distinct set of soils and vegetation dynamics. We randomly established 57 permanent plots within the geologic landform classes. Sampling these plots over several years allowed us to evaluate the spatial and temporal variation within and among geologic landform classes and to build data-driven, quantitative ESGs and state-and-transition models (STMs). Using these models, we developed hypotheses about suitable management practices for conservation goals. We discuss in detail the Holocene Flats ESG, which we identified as having the highest potential for the enhancement of conservation values through altered grazing practices predicted to favor several taxa, including the San Joaquin kit fox, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, and native annual forbs. The predicted responses are currently being tested and monitored, but the ESG/STM conceptual framework has already helped conservation land managers and graziers to better understand how the variation in the Tejon landscape affects the distribution of conservation targets and the specific locations where management can be tailored to enhance biodiversity.