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A New Approach to Monitoring Rangelands

James, Lynn F., Young, James A., Sanders, Ken
Arid land research and management 2003 v.17 no.4 pp. 319
rangelands, ecosystems, environmental monitoring, livestock, grazing, wildlife, climatic factors, surface water, rangeland soils, soil properties, research programs, research planning, research methods, new methods, plant ecology, animal ecology, Western United States
Rangelands are among the most important agricultural ecosystems in the United States and the world. The rangelands of the western United States are fundamental to the rural economy. In order to maintain the quality of these rangelands, they must be monitored over time and space. The ecological condition of rangelands is a major factor in their environmental quality, in their overall performance as watersheds, and in wildlife and livestock production. The monitoring system must be science-based and take into account topography, climate, soils, plant communities, and animal populations that go to make up the western range. An information storage, processing, interpretation, and retrieval system must be included if the monitoring data are to be assessed in a timely manner. This report outlines a research program for the development of a new approach to monitoring rangelands. It includes the principle variables (climate, soils, plants, and grazing animals) involved in determining rangeland condition and trend as an indication of rangeland health.