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Weather-Centric Rangeland Revegetation Planning
- Hardegree, Stuart P., Abatzoglou, John T., Brunson, Mark W., Germino, Matthew J., Hegewisch, Katherine C., Moffet, Corey A., Pilliod, David S., Roundy, Bruce A., Boehm, Alex R., Meredith, Gwendwr R.
- Rangeland ecology & management 2018 v.71 no.1 pp. 1-11
- annual weeds, annuals, climate, climate change, cost effectiveness, ecosystem services, environmental models, invasive species, land restoration, managers, meteorological data, planning, plant establishment, planting, rangelands, seed germination, seedlings, soil, vegetation, weather forecasting, wildfires, Intermountain West region, Western United States
- Invasive annual weeds negatively impact ecosystem services and pose a major conservation threat on semiarid rangelands throughout the western United States. Rehabilitation of these rangelands is challenging due to interannual climate and subseasonal weather variability that impacts seed germination, seedling survival and establishment, annual weed dynamics, wildfire frequency, and soil stability. Rehabilitation and restoration outcomes could be improved by adopting a weather-centric approach that uses the full spectrum of available site-specific weather information from historical observations, seasonal climate forecasts, and climate-change projections. Climate data can be used retrospectively to interpret success or failure of past seedings by describing seasonal and longer-term patterns of environmental variability subsequent to planting. A more detailed evaluation of weather impacts on site conditions may yield more flexible adaptive-management strategies for rangeland restoration and rehabilitation, as well as provide estimates of transition probabilities between desirable and undesirable vegetation states. Skillful seasonal climate forecasts could greatly improve the cost efficiency of management treatments by limiting revegetation activities to time periods where forecasts suggest higher probabilities of successful seedling establishment. Climate-change projections are key to the application of current environmental models for development of mitigation and adaptation strategies and for management practices that require a multidecadal planning horizon. Adoption of new weather technology will require collaboration between land managers and revegetation specialists and modifications to the way we currently plan and conduct rangeland rehabilitation and restoration in the Intermountain West.