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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Reno, Nevada » Great Basin Rangelands Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #379482

Research Project: Management and Restoration of Rangeland Ecosystems

Location: Great Basin Rangelands Research

Title: Where do qualitative assessments fit in an era of increasingly quantitative monitoring? perspectives from interpreting indicators of rangeland health

Author
item LEPAK, N - BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
item Newingham, Beth
item KACHERGIS, EMILY - BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
item Toledo, David
item MOFFITT, JENNIFER - NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE (NRCS, USDA)

Submitted to: Rangelands
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/30/2021
Publication Date: 8/4/2021
Citation: Lepak, N., Newingham, B.A., Kachergis, E., Toledo, D.N., Moffitt, J. 2021. Where do qualitative assessments fit in an era of increasingly quantitative monitoring? perspectives from interpreting indicators of rangeland health. Rangelands. 44(1):39-49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rala.2021.07.008.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rala.2021.07.008

Interpretive Summary: Qualitative assessments, such as Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health, provide a time-efficient tool for understanding ecological processes in the field and can be used to prioritize areas for monitoring, restoration, or management changes. Qualitative assessments provide insight into indicators that are difficult to measure and integrate ecological health attributes (soil and site stability, biotic integrity, and hydrological function) to understand biophysical processes. Quantitative and qualitative data are complementary to reduce inter-observer variability and provide a more complete view of vegetation, soils, and underlying ecological processes. Since qualitative assessments can be completed in the field, qualitative assessments can provide valuable communication tools that can assist in developing a common understanding of resource issues and a shared vision for future stewardship. Training and appropriate experience are especially crucial for consistent, reliable application of qualitative assessments. Multi-disciplinary teams are recommended when completing qualitative assessments to adequately represent ecological processes.

Technical Abstract: Qualitative assessments, such as Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health, provide a time-efficient tool for understanding ecological processes in the field and can be used to prioritize areas for monitoring, restoration, or management changes.Qualitative assessments provide insight into indicators that are difficult to measure and integrate ecological health attributes (soil and site stability, biotic integrity, and hydrological function) to understand biophysical processes. Quantitative and qualitative data are complementary to reduce inter-observer variability and provide a more complete view of vegetation, soils, and underlying ecological processes. Since qualitative assessments can be completed in the field, qualitative assessments can provide valuable communication tools that can assist in developing a common understanding of resource issues and a shared vision for future stewardship. Training and appropriate experience are especially crucial for consistent, reliable application of qualitative assessments. Multi-disciplinary teams are recommended when completing qualitative assessments to adequately represent ecological processes.