Assessing rangeland health under climate variability and change

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Abstract

RANGELAND HEALTH IN A CHANGING WORLD Rangeland health is an integrated metric that describes a complex suite of ecosystem properties and processes as applied to resource management. While the concept of “healthy” landscapes has a long history, the term “rangeland health” was codified in the US in 1994 as part of an effort to move towards a national, data driven, rangeland condition assessment (National Research Council 1994). Rangeland health encompasses the status of both soils and ecological processes as well as the condition of those ecosystems relative to ecological thresholds (e.g. “healthy”, “at-risk”, or “unhealthy"; National Research Council 1994). This latter application ensures that rangeland health assessments not only evaluate the conditions of plants and soils, but also gauge those conditions with respect to known or hypothesized ecological dynamics (Bestelmeyer et al. 2013) for a given set of abiotic constraints (climate, soil, and topographic setting). Thus, an assessment of rangeland health should identify the “degree to which the integrity of the soil and the ecological processes are sustained” (National Research Council 1994, Us Department of Agriculture 1997). Rangeland health attributes and assessment procedures have become widely utilized tools for measuring and monitoring dryland ecosystems, and they may provide valuable perspectives on rangeland response to climate change, although long-term directional change in environmental conditions represents a challenge for traditional rangeland health assessment frameworks.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Assessing rangeland health under climate variability and change
Chapter 17
ISBN 9781316646779
DOI 10.1017/9781108163941
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Contributing office(s) Southwest Biological Science Center, National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center
Description 17 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title Grasslands and climate change
First page 293
Last page 309