Incorporating invasive species and degraded landscapes into ecological site descriptions

TitleIncorporating invasive species and degraded landscapes into ecological site descriptions
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsHansen N.K., Bestelmeyer BT, Brown J., Tugel A.J.
Conference NameSociety for Range Management Annual Meeting
Date PublishedJanuary 26-31, 2
Conference LocationLouisville, KY
ARIS Log Number223374
Keywordsdegraded, ecological site descriptions, invasive
AbstractEcological Site Descriptions (ESDs) and State-and-Transition Models (STMs) have been developed as means of evaluating the condition of rangelands based on Historic Climax Plant Communities (HCPCs) and for creating land management plans with an understanding of the dynamics of vegetation change. However, with the overall increase of invasive species, either native or exotic, along with natural or man-made land degradation, it is difficult to find sites not influenced by invasive species or changes in site-defining soil properties. In some areas, all available sites may be dominated by invasive species and/or extensively degraded. Although STMs have been developed to include potential states caused by simple disturbances such as long-term overgrazing and increased fire frequency, it is often difficult to create STMs that integrate processes that permanently change an area to a new or modified ecological site. In addition, it is difficult to define reference conditions in extensively altered ecological sites in a way that incorporates the former HCPC and the new ecological site properties. This poster will explore possible solutions for writing ESDs and STMs for sites influenced by invasive species and severely degraded landscapes, along with the strengths and weaknesses of these solutions.