Understanding Ecological Sites
Today, land managers are challenged with synthesizing an overwhelming amount of scientific information concerning soils, hydrology, ecology, management, etc. Discrete and arbitrary land ownership boundaries with differences in regulations (or lack of regulations) will often dictate the management goals and objectives for our rangelands (Table 1). Adding to this complexity, natural systems seldom have distinct boundaries with respect to either space or time; therefore, managing landscapes have a certain amount of variability and uncertainty. Ecological sites are a conceptual landscape classification system used to interpret potential across the landscape. The fundamental assumption of ecological sites is that landscapes can be grouped with sufficient precision to increase the probability of success of site-specific predictions, decisions, and management actions (USDA-NRCS, 2011). Ecological sites incorporate abiotic and biotic environmental factors such as climate, soils and landform, hydrology, vegetation, and natural disturbance regimes that together define the site. Each ecological site is identified, differentiated, and described based on the relationships among these environmental factors and how they influence plant community composition and other environmental processes.
- land managers