Science-based integrated assessment and monitoring of OHV effects on soils and vegetation

TitleScience-based integrated assessment and monitoring of OHV effects on soils and vegetation
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsHerrick JE, Pyke D., Duniway MC
Conference NameSociety for Range Management, 60th Annual Meeting and Trade Show
Date Published02/09/2007
Conference LocationReno/Sparks, NV
ARIS Log Number209027
Keywordsecosystem, off-highway vehicles, OHV, rangeland, soils, vegetation
AbstractOff-highway vehicles (OHVs) negatively affect multiple rangeland ecosystem services by modifying soil structure and plant community composition, structure, and productivity. They can introduce invasive species, and increase runoff, soil erosion and plant mortiality. The extent to which long-term degradation occurs depends on the type, timing and intensity of distrubances, and on degradation resistance and recovery potential. As OHV activity increases, limited management must be focused on those areas where OHVs are having the greatest impacts, and where these impacts can be cost-effectively prevented or mitigated. Systematic protocols are required to identify and prioritize OHV impacted areas. We are developing a science-based integrated strategy for identifying, assessing, and monitoring OHV effects on fundamental soil and vegetation attributes on which nearly all ecosystem services depend. This strategy includes four elements. (1) Landscape stratification based on ecological potential. (2) Identification of appropriate assessment and monitoring scales based on the scale of the impacts relative to the scale of soil and vegetation variability. (3) Assessment of current status relative to ecological potential and possible thresholds. (4) Selection of appropriate monitoring indicators based on quantitative relationships between these indicators and critical ecosystem services for different types of soil and vegetation. The forth element shows that OHV tracks dramatically reduce infiltration on some soils and plant species but have virtually no effect on others. For thsoe soils and plant communities where infiltration is affected, recovery rates also vary significantly.