Challenges in writing ecological site descriptions

TitleChallenges in writing ecological site descriptions
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsKluck J., Alexander J., Metz L., Brown J., Meccage R.
Conference NameSociety for Range Management 60th Annual Meeting and Trade Show
Date PublishedFebruary 9-16, 2
Conference LocationReno/Sparks, NV
ARIS Log Number209057
Keywordsdynamics, Ecological Site Description, ESD, vegetaion
AbstractThe Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) adopted the Ecological Site Description (ESD) concept in 1997. The State and Transition Model (STM) is used to describe vegetation dynamics and is an integral component of ESDs that meet users needs. NRCS is currently developing ESDs for much of the rangeland in the western U.S. Synergy Resource Solutions, Inc. worked on over 100 ESDs for southwestern Montana as a contractor to the NRCS. Development of these ESDs has raised numerous questions and issues requiring resolution and/or solutions. Challenges include: 1) consistent difinition of the relationship bewteen States versus Plant Communities versus Phases, b) the validity of the Historical Climax Plant Community concert as a state and as a reference point, c) utility of Ecological Site Information System as a valid mechanism for storing, retrieving and analyzing ESD data, d) the utility of a single plant table to represent numerous plant communities within HCPC, e) mechanisms for representing plant species which only grow in one part of the area covered by the ESD, f) generally applicable rules to determine and define transitions, and g) indicators of approaching transitions. Many local ecologists and state and national ESD specialists have provided input towards refining the ESD concept and ESD development process.