SRR Ecological Assessment Indicators: Selection and Monitoring Techniques
Michael Smith
John Mitchell
Publication Year

The techniques that a producer or land manager would select for monitoring of ecological resources will vary with kind and characteristics of ecological sites being monitored, kind of land uses or sources of potential impacts, level of concern about various resource condition attributes, skills and interests of the manager, legal requirements and other variables. Characteristics of soil, water, plants and animals comprise the ecological indicators of ranch management function. Soil indicators include bare ground and soil aggregate stability. Water is assessed by examining timing and amount of water available including surface and ground water sources. Plant indicators are key species composition, extent of invasive species, extent of wildfire and prescribed fire, and extent and condition of riparian zones. Animal populations are primarily assessed through population size estimates although management system and productive capacity feed into economic assessments. A basic measurement tool for soil and plants is the line point transect. This technique measures soil and plant cover, thus bare ground and species composition are outcomes. Aggregate stability is a measure of the ability of soil surface peds to retain their shape when exposed to water. Water is monitored with precipitation gauges or NOAA sources, flow measurements, amounts, and presence /absence at important times or locations. Mapping and GIS techniques are useful ways of recording presence and change in invasive plants and fire area and locations. Greenline techniques for riparian zones. Animal populations are determined from species specific census techniques that may be used by various agencies or consultants.

Additional Information
Michael Smith1, John Mitchell2 --- 1University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, USA, 2USDA, Forest Service, Emeritis, Ft. Collins, CO, USA