Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #338464

Title: Generalizing ecological site concepts of the Colorado Plateau for landscape-level applications

item DUNIWAY, MICHAEL - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item NAUMAN, TRAVIS - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item JOHANSON, JAMIN - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)
item GREEN, SHANE - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)
item MILLER, MARK - National Park Service
item WILLIAMSON, JEB - New Mexico State University
item Bestelmeyer, Brandon

Submitted to: Rangelands
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/10/2016
Publication Date: 12/20/2016
Publication URL:
Citation: Duniway, M., Nauman, T., Johanson, J., Green, S., Miller, M.E., Williamson, J.C., Bestelmeyer, B.T. 2016. Generalizing ecological site concepts of the Colorado Plateau for landscape-level applications. Rangelands. 38:342-349.

Interpretive Summary: Numerous ecological site descriptions in the southern Utah portion of the Colorado Plateau can be difficult to navigate, so we held a workshop aimed at adding value and functionality to the current ecological site system. We created new groups of ecological sites and drafted state-and-transition models for these new groups. We were able to distill the current large number of ecological sites in the study area (ca. 150) into eight ecological site groups that capture important variability in ecosystem dynamics. Several inventory and monitoring programs and landscape scale planning actions will likely benefit from more generalized ecological site group concepts.

Technical Abstract: The Colorado Plateau is an iconic landscape of the American West— containing dozens of national parks, monuments, historic sites, and several UNESCO World Heritage Sites— including some of the Nation’ s most recognizable landmarks, such as the Grand Canyon and the Arches National Park. The concentration of outdoor destinations has led to a rapid increase in recreational tourism on the Plateau— visitation to the Arches National Park has nearly doubled over the last 15 years. Energy development (mostly oil and gas) has also accelerated in recent years, with a threefold increase in drilling rates in Utah between 2000 and 2008. Agriculture has been an important activity in the region from the prehistoric ages to modern times, with irrigated agriculture carried out in locations with suitable soils and water and domestic livestock grazing (primarily cattle) occurring across the majority of the region. Management of these co-occurring land uses are complicated by forecasts of a more arid and variable climate in the southwestern United States.