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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Logan, Utah » Forage and Range Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #365561

Research Project: Improved Plant Genetic Resources and Methodologies for Rangelands, Pastures, and Turf Landscapes in the Semiarid Western U.S.

Location: Forage and Range Research

Title: Shrub management handbook for Utah rangelands

item MANN, R - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item Monaco, Thomas
item VEBLEN, K - Utah State University
item THACKER, E - Utah State University
item BURRITT, B - Utah State University

Submitted to: Utah Agricultural Experiment Station
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/24/2020
Publication Date: 2/26/2020
Citation: Mann, R., Monaco, T.A., Veblen, K., Thacker, E., Burritt, B. 2020. Shrub management handbook for Utah rangelands. Utah Agricultural Experiment Station.

Interpretive Summary: Utah contains a variety of shrub species adapted to the unique environmental conditions ranging from salt-deserts at lower elevations to woodlands at higher elevation mountain foothills and plateaus. Decades of management experience and research have led to a greater understanding of the complex relationships among vegetation, soil and climate, and how shrublands provide a multitude of ecological services to both humans and wildlife. This handbook integrated this extensive information to guide you in developing realistic project plans and implementing appropriate management strategies. Authors hope this handbook enhances your understanding of basic shrub biology, ecological concepts, and management principles, and that you can use these components to choose the most appropriate technical tools for your project site.

Technical Abstract: Shrub management recognizes that shrubs are an essential part of plant communities and that purposeful manipulation of their abundance can yield desired ecosystem services. Given the critical role of shrubs, the primary objective of this handbook is to assist land owners, managers, habitat specialists, conservationists, and producers achieve the best possible plant community composition with an adequate balance of shrubs and herbaceous plants. This handbook contains four main sections that can be viewed alone or as a systematic, step-by-step framework to customize your learning needs. In section 1, site characterization is used to determine how your project area responds to disturbance and management. Ecological sites are a way to classify and describe soils and vegetation. This section introduces Ecological Site Descriptions (ESDs), which are reports written by experts to communicate specific information about site charateristics, plant communities, management alternatives, and supplementary site information. In section 2, readers wil learn how to develop a shrub management plan, which is open-ended and often leads to unexpected outcomes. This section advocates a 7-step shrub management cycle that promotes adaptive learning - a practical way to refine your project objectives after management strategies are implemented and assessed. This cycle will stimulate a understanding of ecological systems and help document your progress toward obtaining your project goals. In section 3, readers will gain an understanding of target shrubs and learn how the unique biology of shrub species determine their adaptations to specific sites and disturbance regions. Understanding target shrub biology will also reinforce ecological principles and the limiting factors to achieve project goals. This section reviews four different shrub species and presents case studies illustrating potential management outcomes in Utah. In section 4, readers will learn technology to manipulate shrub abundance. Authors explain that because shrubs are a key component of vegetation, altering their abundance will undoubtedly influence other vegetation components and site properties including ground cover, environmental conditions, and energy flow of the ecosystem. This section discusses modern technologies to manipulate shrub abundance, including mechanical tools, herbicides, burning, seeding, and post-treatment grazing. Finally, section 5 includes a glossary and list of appendices. Many terms within this document are defined in the glossary. Appendices are also provided so readers can reference and continue learning about key shrub management topics.